Learning From The Master #11 – Peter Zumthor

Personal Observation on Presence

The taste of the apple […] lies in the contact of the fruit with the plate, not in the fruit itself; in similar way […] poetry lies in the meeting of poem and reader, not in lines of symbols printed on the pages of a book. What is essential is the aesthetic act, the thrill, the almost physical emotion that comes with each reading. –Jorge Luis Borges [1]
In architecture and spatial design, atmosphere refers to the sensorial qualities that a space emits. Atmosphere is an immediate form of physical perception, and is recognised through emotional sensibility. Architects and designers use the notion of atmosphere to argue that architecture and space is designed and built for people to use and experience. Peter Zumthor in his book Atmospheres constitutes architectural atmospheres as “this singular density and mood, this feeling of presence, well-being, harmony, beauty…under whose spell I experience what I otherwise would not experience in precisely this way”. In thinking architecture, he collects the presence; the absence and about the act of remembering and observing as a device for triggering human emotions. Zumthor writes books in the same way he designs buildings: by creating a highly atmospheric experiences.

“In a fragment of a second you can understand: Things you know, things you don’t know, things you don’t know that you don’t know, conscious, unconscious, things which in a fragrant of a second you can react to: we can all imagine why this capacity was given to us as human beings – I guess to survive. Architecture to me has the same kind of capacity. It takes longer to capture, but the essence to me is the same. I call this atmosphere. When you experience a building and it gets to you. It sticks in your memory and your feelings. I guess thats what I am trying to do.” [2]
Several aspects of architectural and spatial design have been identified as contributing to atmosphere are light, object, air, materials, sound, and things in the environment. Zumthor’s personal observation on presence is very close to him, as if we asked to entering his interpretation of personal experience. From Zumthor, we can learn to see architecture with closer perspective. Specifically threat the architecture more than just a beauty of the form. We can re-thinking about the spaces who had formed through interaction of our body and surrounding environment, more personal, relating to the sense and emotion hat can be incorporated into a piece of architecture. All that is possible is in our daily life but forgotten.
“There is something bigger in the world than you are.”

[1] Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes Of The Skin. Chichester: Wiley-Academy, 2005.
[2] http://www.archdaily.com/…/peter-zumthor-seven-personal-obs… ;

We gladly welcome all of the restless spirits to join all the lectures on 28th November, Saturday 2015 at 10.00 am, and to describe and to exchange ideas, thoughts about the topics. Observed and investigated by Rifandi S. Nugroho. This short course will only provide 25 seats maximum [because of the limited space in one small building] ; Please kindly send email with subject “Peter Zumthor” to omahlibrary.reservation@gmail.com for RSVP.