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Transcript of PAPZ
The Old English and High German word for building, buan, means to dwell.
This signifies: to remain, to stay in a place.
The real meaning of the verb bauen, namely, to dwell, has been lost to us.
Martin Heidegger But if we listen to what language says in the word bauen we hear three things:
1. Building is really dwelling.
2. Dwelling is the manner in which mortals are on the earth.
3. Building as dwelling unfolds into the building that cultivates growing things and the building that erects buildings.
Martin Heidegger SENSATIONAL SENSORY SPECTACLE EXPERIENCE PERCEPTION “The beginning was easy. Going back in time, bathing as one might have a thousand years ago, creating a building, a structure set into the slope with an architectural attitude and aura older than anything already built around it, inventing a building that could somehow always have been there, a building that relates to the topography and geology of the location, that responds to the stone masses of Vals Valley, pressed, faulted, folded and sometimes broken into thousands of plates—these were the objectives of our design.”
Peter Zumthor PRESENCING ESSENCING INTENTIONALITY INTUITION EVIDENCE SENSUAL phenomenology in architecture intentionality evidence image idea atavistic memory process of making architecture implicitly urges architects to base their work on the experiences it will engender rather than on abstract rationales that may or may not affect viewers and users of architecture In phenomenology, the environment is concretely defined as "the place," and the things which occur there "take place." The place is not so simple as the locality, but consists of concrete things which have material substance, shape, texture, and color, and together coalesce to form the environment’s character, or atmosphere. It is this atmosphere which allows certain spaces, with similar or even identical functions, to embody very different properties, in accord with the unique cultural and environmental conditions of the place which they exist. Phenomenology is conceived as a “return to things,” maneuvering away from the abstractions of science and its neutral objectivity. Phenomenology absorbs the concept of subjectivity, making the thing and its unique conversations with its place the relevant topic and not the thing itself. "I design for the use of a building and the place and for the people who use it Many thin layers of schist were stacked up to form the walls, which imparted a sense of compressed energy Simply to describe Zumthor as an ultra-craftsman or super-minimalist does not fully describe his fascination. There is extremity, sometimes weirdness, to his work. At one end is his fascination with pleasure and the full sensual range of architecture – touch, sound, smell as well as sight. At the other end is a quality which – if he squirms at words like "spiritual" – none the less belongs to somewhere removed, to some archaic or geological version of time, rather than the here and now. Despite his protestations, his use of mysterious light, his animation of materials and the fervour of his detail can suggest some unnamed cult of nature. Which inspires in this critic some ambivalence: each one of his works is a marvel of invention and making and can readily be called beautiful. But in works like his Bruder Klaus Chapel in Germany, which broods on tree trunks, fire, water, light and silence, things begin to get a little creepy. He is at his best, as in Vals, when he engages more directly with an aspect of living. Zumthor is often described as the pioneer of a new Alpine architecture. His carefully crafted objects, by virtue of being excruciatingly detailed, with long gestation periods, cannot be merely described as buildings. His approach epitomizes characteristics fundamental to Swiss design quality: physical shaping and engineering backed up by hands-on experience and empirical knowledge. It is a holistic view taking into account the origins of materials and their aging within a natural life cycle; an intense concentration on finding solutions that borders on tunnel vision; a peeling away of the superficial elements; and ingrained respect for tried and tested methods, history, and fantasy. In Zumthor’s hands, these strands result in forms of timeless modernity that transmit a mystical, quasi-religious core idea that “beauty is truth, truth beauty,” as Keats wrote in his Ode on a Grecian Urn. Zumthor clears away peripherals to highlight innate composition, patterns, and structural properties of natural materials, such as stone and timber, and even elusive immaterial qualities, such as light. At the Vals spa, all the basic natural elements come together. The pools are half-buried in natural rock, and their mineral waters turn red when exposed to air, depositing red oxides on the concrete. The combination of thin Valser Quartzite dry stone walling, with exposed sawn-cut edges; the varied lighting; and flickering water reflections, which follow the rhythms of nature, make this cavelike structure seem alive—a nonsacral place imbued with an atmosphere of pantheist devotion. My buildings are declarations of love for their sites,” he once said. His sites are indeed often spectacular. But is it the way he reads the topography and weaves his structures into the landscape that helps us see previously hidden qualities? Perhaps the Zumthor phenomenon is, in essence, inspirational. spectacular sensory intimation essencing experiencing is a process, which means that things are being transformed, they go from one stage to another, it means that a building should be it self a promenade leading its users through some primordial experiences of dark, light, cold, warm, open, close, transformations
through the promenade and experience allow visitors to explore and understand the building through the atmospheric qualities of cave like sensations. the building, as something meant for dwelling, should not be seen only as a shelter, but should make you a participant of a live organism the purpose of the building is not only to preserve and conserve, but should cultivate its users, by evoking meanings arising from experiences. sensual Like Ambasz, and yet in an utterly different manner, Zumthor pursues a multi-sensorial architecture of high emotional impact. But by contrast, Zumthor foregrounds the materiality of his buildings, so that this and his wonderful feeling of materials is what probably strikes you first, and then perhaps the beautiful, understated ‘rightness’ of his details – all of these the products of a master craftsman who studied to be a cabinet maker and then learned about materials and construction from the restoration of historic buildings. Piano is a craftsman too, who also uses a wide range of materials.
But he does so mostly in a peculiarly Piano way, breaking down into multiple spaced-apart elements to achieve a sense of lightness and an enlivening visual vibration. By contrast, Zumthor remains faithful to the essential nature of the particular material and lets that dictate how it should be handled. This gives his work a timelessness Piano’s lacks. Zumthor is also much more concerned than Piano is with the depth of relationship the materials and his craftsman approach to them elicit in us, by stirring emotions, associations and memories.
Indeed, Zumthor says he starts design by pondering the atmosphere and associations he wishes to conjure. These are intended to convey the essential spirit of the building and its programme, which together comprise the total work, both triggering memories that deepen and add meaning to the work and the experience of it, and lingering in the memory. The buildings thus exist in, and connect you with, a much larger temporal period than do almost all other contemporary works − a reason why they are so highly esteemed.
A possibly apocryphal story of part of how this is achieved is of many full-size mock-ups of the timber floor for an old age home, and much tramping on the boards and polishing with different waxes, to get the requisite sound and smell that Zumthor remembered from his aunt’s house, and which conveyed for him the essence of reassuring domesticity. Thus through the sensory and phenomenological aspects of architecture, and without recourse to signs of symbols of any sort, Zumthor returns to architecture the experiential and emotional depths, and the meanings, missing from most contemporary architecture.
This grounding in craft, phenomenology and what these evoke in the psyche is also what makes his work so instructively different from that of his compatriots, Herzog & de Meuron.
the Thermal Baths at Vals (AR August 1997), built of locally quarried stone, but using shadow and light, changes of temperature of water and air, as well as the perceived temperature and tactility of stone, metal and leather, to create a multi-sensorial and highly evocative sequence of spaces. ` Zumthor's project departs from its own reality and makes no reference to anything else. It fits not only to its own age, but disposes of further layers of meaning for the coming ages as well myth consists in overturning culture into nature or, at least, the social, the cultural, the ideological, the historical into the ‘natural’.
Roland Barthes ... mountain, stone, water, building in stone, building with stone, building into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain: our attempts to give this chain of words an architectural interpretation, to translate into architecture its meanings and sensuousness, guided our design for the building and step by step gave its form.
Peter Zumthor With the Therme Vals project, Zumthor attempts to reinterpret natural geologic processes of rock formation and geothermal springs in relation to human cultivation of meaning, through staging sensory experiences within scales, materials and ambiances that invoke oneness with earth, water, fire an sky in each individual being. Building as an object and as a process not only preserves and conserves, but also cultivates the growth of meaning by evoking experience and invoking fantasy. The fascination for the mystic qualities of a world of stone within the mountain, for darkness and light, for light reflections on the water or in the steam saturated air, pleasure in the unique acoustics of the bubbling water in a world of stone, a feeling of warm stones and naked skin, the ritual of bathing – these notions guided the architect. Their intention to work with these elements, to implement them consciously and to lend them to a special form was there from the outset. The stone rooms were designed not to compete with the body, but to flatter the human form (young or old) and give it space…room in which to be. The formation of the Alps, 50 million years ago, and the vast stone landscape along with the natural colors captured Peter Zumthor’s attention. His main conceptual idea is focused on the geology of the site and that the site itself comprises an extremely distant memory, almost prehistoric and archaic. This led Zumthor to see before his eyes a construction that somehow always had been there. Stone and water reflects the topography of the site and their connection is magical. The architect treats the whole construction as a volume of rock, which is hollowed into the mountain, similar to the way of a bath born of the mountains, an unstoppable wave of gushing water flowing from it and freezing in a structural form. The building on the other hand is fragmented in nature but monolithic in appearance and endeavors to assert itself as a singular block of stone. It is blended harmoniously with the landscape, having a flat roof covered with grass. The transition from the landscape to the building is barely discernible. Only the geometrical patterns on the roof reveal its presence. The only facade facing the village is built in gneiss stone from a local quarry used for centuries and reveals the style of the construction of the building as a whole. Wide openings, windows and terraces interrupt the facade. There are no doors. The entire journey, from the entrance to the internal spaces is a peaceful narration of the senses. A stone made of stone, which tries to represent most of the conditions of water and earth. Zumthor believes that in the end of every conceptual thinking starts real architecture, which is based on structure and materials. Materiality is a critical feature in all of his projects. In this case the architect not only blends the building with the landscape by sinking the building into the slope but also uses genuine local materials. 60000 individual slabs of that special local stone, now exported almost everywhere thanks to the latest massive use of it for the baths, was used in the project. The whole construction, inside and outside, is made of the same quality of gneiss stone brought 1 km from the site. Light in Zumthor’s architecture plays an integral part and especially natural light. What catches the attention of most visitors is the indirect lighting of the main indoor bath. Light also enters the mass through the slits in the ceiling. The experience one gets through the misty and humid environment lit by stripes of light from above is playful and mystical. Therme Vals building has a strong timeless presence. Architecture and nature, the concept of “borrow frame”, and spirituality:
The nature is present in these two examples. There is no concrete line between the inside and outside these buildings. The relationship between inside and outside is vague and flow in both ways giving a sensation of unit with all layers of spatial experience. The moment when the physical place joins a metaphysic dimension is when the place becomes sacred and glorified. To take a journey into the proximity of the mind and purify the senses is a shared quality in these two architectonical concepts. For the monk who was the brain behind the Nage-ire Doo Hall the search through spaces, movement, lights, and every part concerning architecture, of the harmonious meeting between humans and the total perfection (Buddhism’s beliefs are based on an idea of dissolving the mind and the senses into the whole creation, the whole universe) is the function of the program and architectonic object. The Therme Vals also has the clear idea of purifying body and mind through spaces according to meditation and relaxation, which makes it possible to talk about both examples as sacred places and define them as religious architecture (without dedicating them to a god).
In both objects it is possible to find a sort of “borrow frame” which is a common feature in Japanese architecture. Architects like Tadao Ando and Arata Isosaki both have experimented with these methods. Not only the architectural work in Japan borrows images from the nature; also the Japanese film industry has been part of this tendency during the XX century. Akira Kurosawa was a specialist in finding the perfect spot that nature could offer to his lenses and cinematic eye. In fact architecture and shooting images to create sequences holds a profound relationship and share the same kind of tricks (manipulation of light, space, movement, among a bunch of other features). To reach the Nage-ire Doo Hall from the Sanbutsu-Ji Temple takes 1 hour and 40 minutes walking and climbing through the forest. In this procession the monks and ascetics were able to find a path to purifying the six roots of perception. When the Yamabushi is in front of this “borrow frame” from nature, then it is time for the final meeting with the real emptiness, nothingness, just being part of the whole, the final dissolution of the seeker in Buddha’s palm. In Zumthor’s project the same need of borrowing an instant of the landscape is present. Through the whole experience in the baths the user can follow a path of recognition, an auto-analysis, some kind of Freudian exercise, so that at the end of the course the meeting of nature and mind is a reality. The 6 senses of Human are ready and blessed.
Conclusion and critical approach:
Space and time converge in different places and different cultures. Can we say that architecture defines its culture? Can we suggest that the ways that people think of spaces are part of the culture in certain ways? Is it possible to believe in a group of cornerstones that could guide mankind? What happened with the international style in the beginning of the XX century? Have we not learned yet from that experience? What has modernism brought with its ideals of progress? Does globalization has something to do with the actual approach of architecture in the world? What about media and information? What means “nature” for the western dominant cultures and what does it mean to the east cultures? Are the societies around the world ready to face the turn from homogeneous to heterogeneous societies? Eventually, do we have to be more inclusionary? Could it be possible that through homogenizing some cornerstones for mankind, we would bring more equality between us? What are the lessons in the Therme Vals and Nage-ire Doo Hall that we should really look for? Time for proposals … Most buildings seem to use material for it’s structural properties, aesthetic appearance and suitability in relation to functional performance criteria, and rarely contribute more than just functionality. Zumthor however suggests that at times the material’s intrinsic properties and experiences may even surpass the idea. “Material is stronger than idea, it’s stronger than an image because it’s really there, and it’s there in its own right”(Spier 2001, 15) Zumthor was able to find a way in the construction and material usage of stone, water, and arguably light to truly facilitate the experience of the architecture, and create an importance over how material is rendered to the observes on equal level to that of form-making, or spatial arrangements. material promenade Intentionality refers to the notion that consciousness is always the consciousness of something. He found that if you reconsider the idea of bathing as a mystic, relaxing, and mentally cleansing act along with the idea of a natural hot spring you can design a building that is more in tune with the topology and geography of the hillside. Through this integration of the function of bathing in the building with the connection to the geology of the land, born from this is a bath of the mountain
The fascination for the mystic qualities of a world of stone within the mountain, for darkness and light, for light reflections on the water or in the steam saturated air, pleasure in the unique acoustics of the bubbling water in a world of stone, a feeling of warm stones and naked skin, the ritual of bathing – these notions guided the architect. Their intention to work with these elements, to implement them consciously and to lend them to a special form was there from the outset. The stone rooms were designed not to compete with the body, but to flatter the human form (young or old) and give it space…room in which to be. This almost metaphorical treatment of the land and structure serve as a foothold for which the atmospheres emerge and celebrate the interior connections of the intimacy between water, skin, stone, and light. The effect of the poetic use of dimly lit spaces, along with the high ceilings, and cold or warm stone create intimate serenity to the mystical act or bathing and relaxing.(Karaiskakis ) Each sequence of the promenade is sensual, and
achieved by putting the staging materials in a intimate correlation stone skin light water CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURAL APPROACHES architecture
of sense Architecture that deals with the given reality,
Social and culture responsible Architecture as autonomous realm (intellectual abstract)
Free from traditional restrains
Following the globalization process and world markets Phenomenon is an occurrence, circumstance, or fact that is perceptible by the senses. Phenomenological interpretations of architecture have largely contributed to reveal how meaning unfolds between the experience of the observer, the architecture and the context in which they are situated. atavistic memory essencing intentionality evidence PHENOMENOLOGY IN ARCHITECTURE THE SPECIAL CASE OF THERMAE VALS BY PETER ZUMTHOR Touch, not vision, is the sensory mode that integrates our experience of the world and ourselves. It unites even visual perceptions and integrates them into the extension of the self. Tactile experience evokes the experience of a temporal continuum. Vision by contrast places us in a continuous present. Multi-sensory architecture: qualities of matter, space and scale are measured equally by the eye, ear, nose, skin, tongue, skeleton and muscle. Architecture strengthens one's sense of being in the world, essentially giving rise to a strengthened experience of self (Pallasmaa 1996:28). Another aspect of Pallasmaa's architectural phenomenology is his emphasis on architectural experience as a verb rather than as a noun. In interpreting architecture as a verb, one focuses on action and movement in perception. This perspective emphasizes multi-sensory engagement, since the moving body is typically more open and present to the moment than the static body. He explains how the building is encountered: it is approached, confronted, related to one's body, moved through and utilized as a condition for other things. Architecture directs scales, and frames actions, perceptions, and thoughts (Pallasmaa, 2000:60).
There is inherit suggestion of action in images of architecture, the moment of use and purpose. A bodily reaction is an inseparable aspect of the experience of architecture as a consequence of this implied action. A real architectural experience is not simply a series of retinal images (Holl, Pallasmaa and Perez-Gomez: 2009)
The authenticity of architectural experience is grounded in the tectonic language of the buildings and the comprehensibility of the act of construction to the senses.
We are in constant dialogue and interaction with the environment, to the degree that it is impossible to detach the image of the Self from its spatial and situational existence.
"I am the space where I am" Noel Arnaud
Pallasmaa's suggests to attend "peripheral vision", which goes beyond the object to perceive it contextually. He suggests that "focused vision makes us mere observers" and that "peripheral perception transforms retinal images into spatial and bodily experience" which in turn encourages participation (Pallasmaa 200:84).