Peter Zumthor is one of my favourite architects and when I saw his book ‘Atmospheres’ in the library I couldn’t resist. It’s basically a printed version of a lecture that he delivered back in 2003 with editing kept to a minimal. It was an easy and fun read with great illustrations. It gave an interesting insight into the mind of the architect, and the way he designs his places. The book is talking mainly about interiors, but we can use the same methods to understand any space around us.
Zumthor is using 9+3 short chapters to show us how he absorbs places and what gives them their unique atmosphere. He talks about the materials and their compatibility, the sound and the temperature of a space, how the surrounding objects can change the atmosphere, the tension between the interior and the exterior, the different levels of intimacy and the light on things and its effects.
I loved this book, somehow it’s really striking for me. Every time when I was trying to experience a place I was already using these techniques. I was listening and feeling, and it helped me a lot to understand a space. This book showed me many more aspects of how to absorb, how to analyze and understand our surroundings, our environment as humans.
It’s a very subjective writing, and Zumthor’s personality shines through. His humor, his honesty and simplicity makes the whole read so easy to understand, so accessible. Just like his architecture, this book is simple but meaningful, and has a good feel to it.
I would definitely give this book to someone who asks me about what (landscape) architecture means to me. It’s an architectural book but I think it’s worth a read for anybody who is trying to create spaces as a profession. We are all just place-makers at the end.