a) Does this illustrate that Zumthor doesn't use a concept but instead imagery?
"I think that every project has its theme. And it has to be formulated in a very strong way, so that the entire building and all things, can be explained by this principal theme. For me, the principal theme isn’t an abstract idea, but a physical one. The architecture which interests me is concrete architecture, not architecture as an abstraction. So there is already a body: the idea is a real body."
b) Quotes of Interest
“I think the chance of finding beauty is higher if you don’t work on it directly,” Zumthor has said in describing his philosophy. “Beauty in architecture is driven by practicality. This is what you learn from studying the old townscapes of the Swiss farmers. If you do what you should, then at the end there is something, which you can’t explain maybe, but if you are lucky, it has to do with life.”
“I start with the collection, which is the basis of the museum. I think of separate collections, putting them on different floors, and then I have this terrible feeling, like I am in a department store, with shoes and shirts. So then I draw a forest. And in the forest I find jewels. I have to go here, there, to get them. I think of these jewels as parts of the collection, with their own pavilions, and this gives me a new feeling.”
Imagine the pavilions as metaphorical trees, he went on, “their volumes up in the branches, up in the air. So then I need a system of ramps. Maybe there is a catwalk system.” He sketched more quickly. “Now we have the opposite feeling from a department store. But I am getting confused, weak. I want the sense of informal freedom. I want to feel I am outside. I want a village, but with an upper level, a lower level.” He was sketching, sketching. “But it must give a feeling of peace. Now I feel it will be right only if the collections have real homes.”
Zumthor paused. “To say, ‘Let’s build something flexible,’ this doesn’t produce good results,” he said. “I have to give these alienated works of art some energy, something so that people don’t just pass by them and say, ‘Did you see African art?’ ‘I don’t know.’ So now I no longer see a village but a park. I hate a didactical museum. The goal is a highly emotional place, to put someone in a mood to listen or read or feel.”
“It’s about elevation,” he added. “Everybody can go up, after all.”