Peter Zumthor | Experimentadesign Lisbon

“Peter Zumthor – Buildings and Projects 1986-2007” is an exhibition part of Experimentadesign Lisbon 2009. Featuring 29 projects, 5 large-scale models and a life-size video installation of 12 buildings (by the artists Nicole Six and Paul Petritsch), the exhibition gives an intriguing insight in the creative process of modelmaking that supports the creation of architecture. Stretching over almost 2000 m2 in LX Factory, an emerging cultural space in Lisbon, it takes place from September 7 to November 2, 2008.

The exhibition is produced by and presented in association with Kunsthaus Bregenz, where it was first shown in September 2007. After a visit to the new office of Embaixada Arquitectura (see their WallPaper-published Tomar-project, the Tomar Environmental Monitoring and Interpretation Offices (EMIO), a conversion of a run-down factory in a small town in the middle of Portugal), MovingCities visited the Peter Zumthor-exhibition.

More than giving an insight in the aesthetics of architecture and the organization of space, the exhibition gives the viewer an unique opportunity to observe the vicissitudes of architectural design. Zumthor has opted to present his projects as a strange cabinet of architectural creations, different models of one and the same project are presented next to each other, offering the visitor the opportunity to see spatial and material variations of the attempts to tame the creative process. As such the exhibition isn’t a celebration of the final creation, neither a catalogue of finished projects, but gives the viewer a glimpse into the laboratory of architectural design. With projects and models higlightening Zumthor’s great sense for scale, materiality, color, austerity and position, the exhibition brings to life an architectural in-between state, neither a finished nor a fossilized model room.

In a review of the same exhibition in 2007, Building Design published a review called “Peter Zumthor exhibition presents a reality check”. The author justifiably points out the difference between the architecture as process and project:

It is a testament to Zumthor’s work that the biggest problem with the exhibition is that it is no substitute for visiting the buildings themselves. For this reason, models of unfinished and terminated projects which have no real-life counterpart to compete with prove to be most interesting. The Topography of Terror exhibition centre proposal depicts just what could have been realised on the site of the former Gestapo HQ.

As such the presentation of one’s architecture as a series of projects, has been undermined by Peter Zumthor. Presenting a topography of textures, a creative collection of the culture of craftmanship and an insight in architectural indecision, the exhibition illustrates the basic principles underlying the work of Peter Zumthor, explained as follows:

His striking creations stem from a bedrock of meticulous draftsmanship, coherence and flawless conceptual quality. A staunch believer that architecture is made and meant to be experienced first hand, inhabited and used, Zumthor’s buildings are rooted in principles of sustainability, balanced integration in the natural surroundings and an extreme sensibility in the treatment and application of materials, drawing upon their tactile, plastic and reactive qualities.

Swiss Sound Box | Expo 2000 Hanover, 2000

 Poetic Landscape | Germany 1998-1999

Topography of Terror | Berlin 1993-2004

Peter Zumthor - Buildings and Projects 1986-2007 | Lisbon 2008

Thermal Bath Vals | Graubünden, Switzerland 1996

Poetic Landscape | Germany 1998-1999

Domino de Pingus Winery | Valbuena de Duero, Spain 2001 - 2005

Zumthor House | Graubünden, Switzerland 2005

Kolumba, Art Museum of the Cologne Archdiocese | Cologne, Germany 2007

Pension Briol | Barbian-Driekirchen, Switzerland 2001 -

Hotel Therme Vals | Graubünden, Switzerland 2001 -

Peter Zumthor - Buildings and Projects 1986-2007 | Lisbon 2008

Pictures by Mónica Carriço & Bert de Muynck |


Experimentadesign Lisbon 2009
LX Factory | Lisbon, Portugal
Embaixada Arquitectura

See also

Quinta da Malagueira by Alvaro Siza | August 25, 2011

Casa das Histórias Paula Rego by Eduardo Souto de Moura | August 30, 2011

Estoril Sol Residence by Gonçalo Byrne Arquitectos| August 30, 2011

2 thoughts on “Peter Zumthor | Experimentadesign Lisbon”

  1. Greetings from Romania!

    We are organizing TED in Bucharest, Romania on the 16th of October. For a general idea about TED please view the following 4 minutes trailer or

    Some of these remarkable people have included former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, designer Phillipe Starck, architect Frank Gehry, primatologist Jane Goodall, musician Paul Simon, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, genomics pioneer Craig Venter, Tiananmen Square organizer Li Lu, biologist E.O. Wilson, playwright Eve Ensler, photojournalist James Nachtwey, Nobel laureates Paul Berg, Murray Gell-Man and Jim Watson (of Watson & Crick), Lost producer JJ Abrams, jazz musician Herbie Hancock, Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell, eco-architect William McDonough, architect and sculptor Maya Lin, Reverend Billy Graham, cellist Yo Yo Ma, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, leadership coach Tony Robbins …

    I would very much like to have Peter Zumthor to this list have him with us at the event. I noticed you have him at your event in Lisbon. Could you please help me with his contact and see how it will turn out?

    Thank you a lot!


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