Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor has been working on a groundbreaking project in a remote part of Norway for over a decade. This project involves the creation of a cluster of museum buildings that lead to a disused zinc mine, which holds significant cultural and industrial heritage. Zumthor’s design for the site aims to bring attention to this heritage while also making the area more accessible and welcoming for visitors. Through his unique approach to architecture, Zumthor seeks to create a sense of place that is deeply rooted in its history and context, and his work at the zinc mine museum is a prime example of this approach in action. The project is a testament to Zumthor’s ability to create meaningful and memorable experiences through architecture and is expected to be a major draw for visitors from around the world.
Zinc Mine Museum Technical Information
- Architects: Peter Zumthor Atelier | Peter Zumthor Biography
- Location: Allmannajuvet, Sauda, Norway
- Program: Cultural Architecture /Museum
- Project Year: 2016
- Photographs: © Arne Espeland
It’s incredibly remote, it’s modest, and you can see that the people were poor […] The working conditions must have been terrible. You cannot stand upright in the tunnels, you have to go miles into the mountain, where it’s cold in summer and winter. So it gave us the idea to be modest in everything we did. Not poor, but modest.
– Peter Zumthor1
Zinc Mine Museum Project Images
In a remote part of Norway, the zinc mines in Allmannajuvet in Sauda, Ryfylke, were in operation from 1881 to 1899. The mining operations brought life to the village with as many as 168 employees and the export of ore on ships heading abroad. The operation was a forerunner of subsequent hydroelectric development and industrialization in Sauda in Ryfylke. This project is the second installation along the country’s celebrated national tourist routes. The ‘allmannajuvet’ site will tell the story of the region’s zinc mines that were in operation between 1881 and 1899, a practice that employed as many as 168 workers from the nearby village. In an agreement with the Norwegian public roads administration, Sauda municipality assumes responsibility for the site’s operations, upkeep, and maintenance.
New service and information facilities are being constructed there in the framework of the National Tourist Route Ryfylke. In 2002, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor was commissioned as part of Norway’s Tourist Route initiative to create a small museum and cafe at Almannajuvet, hoping to attract more tourists to the isolated region.
For safety reasons, Zumthor was forced to reposition two of the four timber buildings he planned to dot along the old mining path. In the interim, the Pritzker laureate was invited to build another structure at the northern tip of the Tourist Route, a cocoon-like memorial he completed on the Arctic island of Vardo – in collaboration with the artist Louise Bourgeois – to commemorate the 91 witches burned at the stake there in the 17th century.
The notion of a permanent installation at the site of the mines was first proffered over ten years ago before construction began in 2011. Peter Zumthor’s design draws attention to the site’s industrial heritage while simultaneously making the area more accessible to increasing numbers of visitors.
The four structures will sit above and apart from the mine’s archaeological remains but echo the ghosts of these buildings by alluding to early industrial architecture. Zumthor, who commissioned a history and plan of the site, told me that he wanted the buildings to look like they had always been there.
There’s this corner that doesn’t work or whatever. That’s the artistic process. It’s grounded to artists, and it should also be grounded to architects who work like building artists. This is not slowness, this is just working like an architect-artist. This is how I need to work and I need a client who understands it, and wants it, and knows that this can get on your nerves sometimes.
– Peter Zumthor1
The typically restrained response sees an obtrusive service building clamped to an existing stone wall while a neighboring café structure serves as a rest stop for walkers. The buildings proudly present their exposed structural framework and are topped with corrugated roofs that harmonize with the rugged terrain. A car park and an additional stairway are also in place, while the exhibition hall – the museum itself – is under production in the nearby town of Sauda and will be completed in 2016.
Zinc Mine Museum Image Gallery
About Peter Zumthor
Peter Zumthor is a renowned Swiss architect renowned for his minimalist and thought-provoking designs. Despite managing a relatively small architectural firm, he has received numerous accolades for his work, including the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2009 and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in 2013. His designs have been celebrated for their intense attention to detail and materiality, as well as for their ability to create powerful emotional experiences for users. Through his work, Zumthor has established himself as one of the most important architects of our time, and his buildings continue to inspire and challenge architectural discourse.
- Peter Zumthor Interview for Iconeye Magazine
- Peter Zumthor: Buildings and Projects, 1985-2013 by Thomas Durisch