kolumba museum, peter zumthor 1997-2007

kolumba museum, köln, germany 1997-2007.

architect: peter zumthor, b.1943


...a real surprise was how much of the building I already knew, which made for an interesting game of influences and origins, easily played here on flickr where more than a thousand images of the museum can be found.


this particular photo shows a detail inspired by lewerentz' frameless windows from his late works in western sweden. zumthor has added a frame but keeps it out of your sight, a much more durable solution which was also how utzon translated and used lewerentz' original idea.


then there is the wooden bridge which zig-zags across the ancient ruins underneath the museum, each turn providing a priviliged view helping you to understand the whole. the shape may superficially resemble a plan by liebeskind but I nominate fehn's famous entry bridge spanning the ruins in hamar. fehn first turns you away from the building to show you the dramatic context, before returning you to the museum and its interior.


kahn's first unitarian chuch has been suggested elsewhere as the origin of zumthor's skylit corner towers and the only thing I find problematic with that observation is that it didn't come from me :)


and the stairs - know I've seen them somewhere before...any suggestions?


maybe the most interesting borrowing and one of the most intriguing aspects of the kolumba museum is the decision to build the walls of the new building right on top of the ruined walls of the original gothic church, even on the same vertical plane. this strategy, so far from the neurotic layering of carlo scarpa, surely originates with gottfried böhm - an important point considering that böhm's earliest and best loved work has ended up inside the belly of zumthor's museum.


böhm contested zumthor's right to do so but in vain. nevertheless, böhm may have been right: the one weak point I witnessed in the complex puzzle which makes up zumthor's museum was böhm's little chapel deprived of daylight, a sad sight.


regardless, this and any games of borrowed moves and strategies we may play cannot detract from the synthesis, the difficult whole, which is kolumba.


zumthor may seem to quote the masters of modern architecture endlessly - but really, he has selected them as his tradition much as we find it in other late modernists - miralles and scarpa come to mind - who made of the modern masters a living heritage which they could consult for answers and directions.


given the necessary talent and tenacity, zumthor appears to be telling us at kolumba, that path remains open. with his level of ambition, he could barely have gone elsewhere.


this photo was uploaded with a CC license and may be used free of charge and in any way you see fit.

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more zumthor.


more words, yada, yada, yada.

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Taken on October 4, 2008