Peter Zumthor to be presented with Royal Gold medal

Peter Zumthor's Thermal Spa in Switzerland

In February Peter Zumthor will be presented with the Royal Gold medal for ‘significant influence either directly or indirectly on the advancement of architecture’.

Previous recipients of the award include Architects such as Le Corbusier, Frank Gehry and David Chipperfield. The repertoire of recipients clearly shows the superiority of this award.

Having previously received the Pritsker prize in 2009, it would seem that Zumthor’s work has rightfully been recognised during the later years of his career to date. Zumthor is praised for his consideration of the sensory experience, specifically in his works such as Therme Vals in Switzerland and the Bruder Klaus Chapel in Germany. Taking these two pieces of work as examples is particularly useful as they portray Zumthor’s willingness to be diverse and to think objectively about each project. His range of work also shows that he carefully considers each respective site and its heritage, choosing materials and styles that will complement the architecture and environment around.

In addition, you can see that the interiors of his buildings ensure that the users experience exactly what is intended by the brief. For example, the Bruder Klaus Chapel is closed and introvert, using a simple exterior form to create a single hidden space designed for public use; while the Therma Vals uses a disjointed collection of interior spaces that creates a clear divide in function but overall is intriguing for the user to maneuver round. Both play with the idea of public and private and Zumthor does well to create intimacy within the public spaces while still making them accessible by all.

Zumthor commits himself to each specific brief and in doing so has created a portfolio of work which is a testament to his creativity and ability to create modern architecture that caters for all the senses. The most enjoyable aspect for me is his willingness to experiment with angles and curves alike, and refreshingly does not feel confined to one style of architecture. A worthy recipient of this award and one I hope to see much more from.

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