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Seeking the real : the special case of Peter Zumthor

Platt, Christopher and Spier, Steven (2010) Seeking the real : the special case of Peter Zumthor. Architectural Theory Review, 15 (1). pp. 30-42. ISSN 1326-4826

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Peter Zumthor writes about "developing an architecture which sets out from and returns to real things" referring to both his own design process and the qualities he wishes his architecture to convey. In an architecture culture long accustomed to media saturation and the image, the phrase 'real things' is provocative and potentially archaic. This paper examines what Zumthor means by that term by investigating how he establishes the core ideas or principles that come to inform design development; namely, by his approach to a brief, a site, and a context. The paper draws on his writings as well as our own experience of being in his buildings, particularly through a rare interview that we conducted with him in his new house and atelier in Haldenstein.