Peter Zumthor - The Thermae of Stone in Vals, Switzerland
Stone. Water. Light
”And for the stone to caress the human body, it has to be heated, made to feel as if it had been warmed by the sun. The stone must be allowed to make its own impact; not too many architectural shapes and sculptural visions should be imposed on it; the mass, large and serene, should be left alone so that the presence of the stone is felt, so that it can exert its own effect on our bodies.
The more we trusted the stone and allowed it to play the leading role, the more it began to reveal its subtleties, its grain, its structures, its beauty.
Peter Zumthor Therme Vals, edition Scheidegger&Spiess, p. 140
"Hence, working on the architectural design always meant thinking about the rituals of bathing. The architecture that we developed step-by-step inspired us to see the experience of bathing in a new light, to find new choices and forms, to leave some things out, to rediscover original forms. Conversely, studying the art of bathing influenced our architecture. A certain openness and radicalism marked the path we took, accompanied by a group of people from Vals whom the community had given the responsibility of overseeing the project."
Peter Zumthor Therme Vals, edition Scheidegger&Spiess, p. 90
In praise of light
"The thermal bath in Vals is the master piece of Peter Zumthor. The prize winning architecture is also a place of illumination - especially because it reveres the shadows.
The blocks were stacked from 60,000 panels of Vals Gneiss, formed 50 million years ago at 500°C and 15 kilobar, and then blasted, broken, split, milled, sometimes roughened, ground or polished. Both the floor and pool are made of this greyish-green stone with white inclusions, which look at you like eyes, the ceiling panels are made of concrete – rooms made only of stone, water and light.(…) The narrow six centimetre slits cut a razor sharp network of lights in the roof and ceiling. They give the upper partition a structure, and also show the spa visitors the extent of the room to the side – and therefore, they support the structural concept of the architect, who always saw his baths as a space continuum, that you experience as a whole, but do not see all of immediately”.
Axel Simon, Beilage zu Hochparterre 3/2010 „Steinbad, Sonnenspiel und Himmelsscheibe – Der Tageslicht-Award 2010“[Supplement to Hochparterre 3/2010 “Stone bath, sun play, and sun disc - The Tageslicht Award 2010”]