Purity by Zumthor

I came across this short article and thought about the Design Thesis Process. It was strongly put that we keep to the initial sketch / initial concept and work on it over and over again.
Its about the main problem statement, so if a designer got that right in the first place then the concept will work. Kevin illustrated this with an example of an Aquarium project that should not be pre-occupied with hard issues or form , like the sea shell, but instead with soft issues or the idea of the sea.
Going back to the purity of the initial concept, in the article, Zumthor’s office has “projects begin with a sketch, a concept model and photographs of the model which capture an ‘atmosphere’”.
That seems sufficient to get ‘it’ from the beginning and really work on it as later Zumthor’s “employees speak about how easily the essence of a project can be squeezed out by accident when detailing a design, so a lot of time is spent perfecting these mood boards, which use photographs of the model to simulate the experience of walking through the building”.
Sometimes, its no use spending so much time on a project. If I were to be the Design Thesis coordinator again, I would try to make it shorter the design process, and more on the detailing part.
The problem statement has to be sorted earlier and then the finding out the concept more rigorous and the detailing part long and experimental.
Here is the article:
FROM THE EDITOR (Architect’s Journal)

I was fortunate enough to spend last weekend in Switzerland, where I visited the offices of Peter Zumthor to discuss his much-anticipated Serpentine Pavilion – the hortus conclusus – a black box with a contemplative garden at its heart. You can read our exclusive interview with Zumthor here.

It was a privilege to sit down with Zumthor (after donning the requisite office slippers) and fascinating to speak to the – mostly young, mostly female – architects who work in the Atelier Peter Zumthor and Partner offices.

The Zumthor process of design relies heavily on model-making – huge, 1:1 mock-ups built in-house are routine. The office is a maze of working models, with drawings and materials pinned to every wall (even the cloakroom). Projects begin with a sketch, a concept model and photographs of the model which capture an ‘atmosphere’.

These are referred back to throughout the project to ensure nothing of the original concept is lost. Zumthor’s employees speak about how easily the essence of a project can be squeezed out by accident when detailing a design, so a lot of time is spent perfecting these mood boards, which use photographs of the model to simulate the experience of walking through the building.

I don’t want to idealise his way of working, but I was intrigued by Zumthor’s respect for the purity of the initial concept.

Best,
Christine Murray

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