kolumba museum, peter zumthor 1997-2007

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    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.
    if possible, please name photographer "SEIER+SEIER".
    if not, don't.

    more zumthor.

    more words, yada, yada, yada.

    Alessandro Frati, nilsvik, jeremiasss, and 54 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 2 more comments

    1. TenerifeTenerife 72 months ago | reply

      nice share...!

      Seen in my contacts' photos. (?)

    2. schromann 72 months ago | reply

      Thanks, once again, for your insight. A shame that the window-detailing (Zumthor refers to them as brooches) tends to result in water running down the facade.

    3. wowo72 72 months ago | reply

      Great photo and perfect timing :)

      Your analysis reminds me words of Francis Bacon, or maybe it was actually Solomon:
      'There's no new thing upon the earth, all novelty is just oblivion' .

      I presume, we should be thankful to Zumthor for this great opportunity for discovering all those little things and influences. Can't wait to visit Kolumba myself.

      As per stairs, I suggest Claudio Silvestrin
      I bet John Pawson did similar too.

      Last but not least, congratulations to latest Pritzker laureate. I guess the prize is well deserved. I guess because -even though I admire his architecture - unfortunately, I haven't visited any of his creations yet [shame on me]. And I must say, contrary to you I have very high expectations :)

      Nevertheless, hopefully he's mature enough that it won't go into his head and we will see many more of his sensual buildings in the future.

    4. 22fiaschi 72 months ago | reply

      eccezionale zumthor

    5. tornbjerg 72 months ago | reply

      Nice to see your commentary return, thanks.

      Also, Pawson does come to mind regarding the stair, but I first thought of Kunsthaus Bregenz. Not crazy about seeing the light source in this version - it's such an abstract space (at least without a handrail there).

      Speaking of Fehn, I was hoping for a few words in his honor. Your eloquence upon Utzon's passing was what first brought me to your stream.

    6. seier+seier 72 months ago | reply

      thanks, all of you.

      chris, it is too generous of you to call my rambling insights :)

      wojtek: silvestrin looks like a good call. I would also have guessed pawson but I simply don't know his work.

      tom: thanks and yes, I should have written something about fehn. he was the last of the nordic masters and in that sense he leaves a void even greater than the loss of utzon with whom he did a few competitions in the years following WWII.

      I have been going to hamar, the site of his famous museum, a couple of times lately - so far without the time to see it...but I hope to make up for that later this year. let's see then :)

    7. tornbjerg 72 months ago | reply

      I will look forward to it.

      Presumptuous of me to attempt to influence the editorial direction of your posts, apologies.

    8. seier+seier 72 months ago | reply

      no no, there is no editorial line except what interests me and, only occasionally, what really bugs me so suggestions are more than welcome :)

    9. seier+seier 71 months ago | reply

      I recommend it :)

    10. Jetou 71 months ago | reply

      i wen there it s very impressive, bravo Zumthor

    11. TheManWhoPlantedTrees 45 months ago | reply

      great human and architecture relation .

    12. seier+seier 44 months ago | reply

      the most important relation...

    13. dominic bruys 28 months ago | reply

      I wonder if the building of the walls directly on top of the old ones hasn't a much older progenitor. Not having been there but feeling from the texture in your image I'd suggest the echoing of ancient walled cities was his influence, not Böhm. I think there's a social statement, perhaps cynical or nostalgic about the gothic foundation being strong in this place.

    14. seier+seier 28 months ago | reply

      interesting - and I largely agree, though I cannot say anything about social statements in the buildings of peter zumthor. of course, his work contains social statements as architecture must, but they are not overt.

      now, your observation that building new walls on top of old one has historical precedent, that much is undeniable. I was specifically looking for a modernist precursor in the context of zumthor treating modernism as his tradition, and böhm literally sitting under zumthor's roof appeared an obvious source.

      I also rather like to make bold statements, and could easily be wrong :)

    15. Daveybot 25 months ago | reply

      Just visited this building today - my first visit to a Zumthor project, I'm ashamed to admit!

      Your comments about borrowing from the masters exactly mirror my own as I walked around, though I'll admit you came up with more names than I did! The one that really jumped out for me was Scarpa, in the glimpse from the walkway through to the bear sculpture in the entrance to the chapel, and other careful positioning of sculptures in relation to filtered daylight. I love your comment about Scarpa's neurotic layering, too - a brilliant term! This was just as considered as any Castelvecchio, but I thought it much more confident and plain-spoken, too.

      I loved it. LOVED it.

    16. seier+seier 25 months ago | reply

      well, don't be ashamed, I was a latecomer to zumthor as well :)

      when the office toured austria and switzerland to study passive houses in 2009, I made secret arrangements with our local busdriver to stop at all zumthor buildings to the frustration of my colleagues. I was the only one who hadn't seen them.

      (still have to upload photos from that trip!)

      good call on the bear sculpture - which is by böhm himself, btw

    17. Daveybot 25 months ago | reply

      Is it really? Wow - the plot thickens! It seems like this is a project about which I should do a fair bit more reading, and then maybe another visit perhaps... yes, that doesn't sound too bad at all!

    18. seier+seier 25 months ago | reply

      you are forced to go back, could be worse :)

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