Peter Zumthor, Home for Senior Citizens, Chur, Graubünden Switzerland, 1993

Peter Zumthor, Home for Senior Citizens, Chur, Graubünden Switzerland, 1993

Peter Zumthor, Home for Senior Citizens, Chur, Graubünden Switzerland, 1993

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Peter Zumthor swiss architect, was born in Basle in 1943. Peter’s father was a master joinerhad. Father planned that Peter should take over the family business but he rebelled against this. Peter continuing his education in design at the School of Applied Arts in Basle. Later he studied at the Pratt Institute in New York. In 1968, Peter got his first job as an architect in the Department for the Preservation of Monuments for the canton of Graubunden. In 1979 Zumthor set up his own office in Haldenstein.

The ‘hand of the architect’ and the craftsmanship of construction are qualities that make this building stand out. A long slab containing a row of apartments on two floors, this building seen from a distance would be similar to the surrounding ‘modernist’ blocks if it were not for the noble use of materials as opposed to only paint. Tufa and glass cover most of the facade; larch wood is used for the framing of openings and the interior paneling; exposed concrete at fewer points reminds us of the existence of a physical structure. And it is that the real structure of this building is social which is ultimately expressed in its spatial configuration. The east facade holds two entrances to the building which are integrated into the row of double height windows, but the space inside is always single height: the large windows are more of an ‘effect’ as in much of Zumthor’s work. The entrance leads into a large common space that distributes the inhabitants into their personal living units. Instead of a hallway this space is more like a long living room which has been subtly parceled by the repetition of the apartments and by the personal furniture of the inhabitants, although in an unobtrusive way and keeping a communitarian sense in the space. The cells are more like big pieces of furniture themselves since their volume and partitioning doesn’t seem to touch the ceiling and floor. The rhythm created as the cells move in and out and the play between depth and surface make the cells appear like individual notes of a musical score. The west facade expresses the individuality of the the living units while still remaining loyal to the singularity of the whole.


Reviewed by

Anna Bęza and Dominika Puchalska November 2016



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