Peter Zumthor Biography & Bibliography

Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor Profile

Architect / Switzerland / Peter Zumthor / Works of Peter Zumthor

Peter Zumthor (born 26 April 1943) is a Swiss architect and winner of the 2009 Pritzker Prize and 2013 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Zumthor founded his own firm in 1979. His practice grew quickly, and he accepted more international projects.

Zumthor has taught at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles (1988), the Technical University of Munich (1989), Tulane University (1992), and the Harvard Graduate School of Design (1999). Since 1996, he is a professor at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio

His best-known projects are the Kunsthaus Bregenz (1997), shimmering glass and concrete cube that overlooks Lake Constance (Bodensee) in Austria; the cave-like thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland (1999); the Swiss Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hannover, an all-timber structure intended to be recycled after the event; the Kolumba Diocesan Museum (2007), in Cologne; and the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel, on a farm near Wachendorf.

In 1993 Zumthor won the competition for a museum and documentation center on the horrors of Nazism to be built on Gestapo headquarters in Berlin. Mr. Zumthor’s submission called for an extended three-story building with a framework consisting of concrete rods. The project, called the Topography of Terror, was partly built and then abandoned when the government decided not to go ahead for financial reasons. The unfinished building was demolished in 2004. In 1999, Zumthor was selected as the only foreign architect to participate in Norway’s National Tourist Routes Project, with two projects, the Memorial in Memory of the Victims of the Witch Trials in Varanger, a collaboration with Louise Bourgeois (completed in 2010), and a rest area/museum on the site of an abandoned zinc mine

Peter Zumthor Bibliography – Recommended Books

This bibliography consists of a selective list of books relating to Peter Zumthor’s Architecture.

 Peter Zumthor: Buildings and Projects, 1985-2013

Peter Zumthor: Buildings and Projects, 1985-2013 [5 Volume Set]

  • Hardcover: 850 pages
  • Publisher: Scheidegger and Spiess; Slp edition (May 15, 2014)
  • Language: English
Description by publisher: Unquestionably one of the most influential and revered contemporary architects, Peter Zumthor has approached his work with a singular clarity of vision and a strong sense of his own philosophy, both of which have earned him the admiration of his peers and the world at large. Choosing only to take on a few projects at a time and keep his studio small, Zumthor has produced a comparatively few numbers of realized buildings, but they rank among the world’s most stunning: St. Benedict’s Chapel in Sumvitg, Switzerland; Therme Vals in Vals, Switzerland; Kunsthaus Bregenz in Bregenz, Austria; and the Kolumba Art Museum in Cologne, Germany number among his most famous buildings.


Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor


  • Hardcover: 75 pages
  • Publisher: Birkhäuser Architecture; 5th Printing. edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
Description by publisher: Atmospheres is a poetics of architecture and a window into Zumthor’s personal sources of inspiration. In nine short, illustrated chapters framed as a process of self-observation, Zumthor describes what he has on his mind as he sets about creating the atmosphere of his buildings: images of spaces and buildings that affect him are every bit as important as particular pieces of music or books that inspire him.

From the composition and “presence” of the materials to the handling of proportions and the effect of light, Atmospheres enables the reader to recapitulate what really matters in the house design process. Peter Zumthor describes what really constitutes an architectural atmosphere as “this singular density and mood, this feeling of presence, well-being, harmony, beauty…under whose spell I experience what I otherwise would not experience in precisely this way.”

Delving deep into the mind and process of one of the century’s greatest architects, Atmospheres is a must-read for all aspiring and established architects as well as any individuals interested in architecture.


Thinking Architecture by Peter Zumthor

Thinking Architecture

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Birkhäuser Architecture; 3rd edition (June 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
Description by publisher: Thinking Architecture allows readers a direct glimpse into his mind through a series of essays, titles such as “The Light in the Landscape,” reflecting his minimalist style. Peter Zumthor articulates what motivates him to design his buildings, which appeal to visitors’ hearts and minds and possess a compelling and unmistakable presence and aura.

In its third edition, Thinking Architecture has been expanded to include two new essays: “Architecture and Landscape” and “The Leis Houses.” “Architecture and Landscape” deals with the relationship between the structure and its surroundings, with the secret of the successful placement and topographical integration of architecture. In “The Leis Houses,” Peter Zumthor describes the genesis of two wooden houses in the town of Leis in the Swiss canton of Graubunden, thus thematizing the special challenge of integrating contemporary architecture into a traditional architectural context.


Other recommended Books of Peter Zumthor:

A Feeling of History by Peter Zumthor and Mari Lending, Aug 15, 2018

Peter Zumthor Therme Vals Hardcover – Illustrated, March 15, 2007 by Sigrid Hauser (Author), Peter Zumthor (Editor), Hélène Binet (Photographer)

Zumthor in Mexico: Swiss Architects in Mexico Paperback – April 23, 2019, by Tatiana Bilbao (Author), Alejandro Gálvez (Author), Rozana Montiel (Author), Gloria Cabral (Author), Julia Stüssi (Author), Julio Estrada (Author), Nicolás Alvarado (Author), Peter Krieger (Author), Toni Kuhn (Author), Peter Zumthor (Artist), Pedro Reyes (Contributor)

Mies van der Rohe Award for European Architecture (winner of the award: Art Museum of Bregenz, Austria / architect: Peter Zumthor) Barcelona: Actar, 2000 ISBN 8495273144

Architecture of the essential / Pirkko Tuukkanen, Silja Kudel International Alvar Aalto Symposium (6th: 1994: Jyvaskyla) Jyvaskyla: Alvar Aalto Foundation, 1994 ISBN 9529845316 (includes ‘From passion for things to the things themselves’ / by Peter Zumthor) Art museums into the 21st century / Gerhard Mack Basel: Birkhauser, 1999 ISBN 3764359633

Between structure and dressing: Zumthor, Herzog & de Meuron and the concept of dressing / Thomas P Duda London: Architectural Association, 1998 Thesis (MA) Histories, and Theories Programme, 1998

Construction/intention/detail: five projects from five Swiss architects / edited by Mark Gilbert, Kevin Alter London: Artemis, 1994 ISBN 3760884202

Glass buildings: material, structure and detail / Heinz W Krewinkel Basel: Birkhauser, 1998 ISBN 3764356502

Light construction / Terence Riley New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1995 ISBN 0870701290

Matiere d’art: architecture Contemporaine en Suisse = A matter of art: contemporary architecture in Switzerland / Centre Cultural Suisse, Paris Basel: Birkhauser, 2001 ISBN 3764364459

Musei: architetture 1990-2000 / Luca Basso Peressut Milan: Motta, 1999 ISBN 8871791991, Next: 8th International Architecture Exhibition 2002: la Biennale di Venezia Padova: Marsilio, 2002 2 vols. ISBN 0847825213 (includes work by Peter Zumthor)

Partituren und Bilder: architektonische Arbeiten aus dem Atelier Peter Zumthor 1985-1988 / Hans Danuser, Toni Hafliger Luzern: Architekturgalerie Luzern, 1994 ISBN 395200975X Peter Zumthor / A+U: Architecture and Urbanism Extra Edition February 1998

Peter Zumthor: Kunsthaus Bregenz Building / Friedrich Achleitner Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz, 1999 ISBN 3775707204 Peter Zumthor: three concepts: Thermal bath, Vals; Art Museum, Bregenz; International Exhibition and Documentation Centre, Berlin / Manfred Sack Basel: Birkhauser, 1997 ISBN 3764357452

Peter Zumthor works: buildings and projects 1979-1997 / photographs by Helene Binet, text by Peter Zumthor Basel: Birkhauser, 1999 ISBN 3764360992

Soundspace: architecture for sound and vision / Peter Grueneisen Basel: Birkhasuer, 2003 ISBN 3764369752

Staircases / Eva Jiricna London: Laurence King, 2001 ISBN 1856692035 (includes staircase by Peter Zumthor)

Swiss made: new architecture from Switzerland / Steven Spier London: Thames and Hudson, 2003 ISBN 050034194X.

Swiss sound box: a handbook for the pavilion of the Swiss Confederation at Expo 2000 in Hanover / Peter Zumthor Basel: Birkhauser, 2000 ISBN 3764363258

Thermal Bath at Vals / Peter Zumthor London: Architectural Association, 1996, ISBN 1870890647

Therme Vals (illustrations of the thermal bath at Vals, designed by Peter Zumthor) Zurich: Burkard & Partner

Worlds one… towards the end of the twentieth century = Mundos uno… hacia el final del Siglo XX / El Croquis 88/89 Madrid: El Croquis, 1998

Works of Peter Zumthor

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