Peter Zumthor: Thinking Architecture: whole & details

“Architecture is allways faced with the challenge of developing a whole [WHOLE] out of innumerable details [PART], out of various functions and forms, materials and dimensions.  The architect must look for rational constructions and forms, for edges and joints, for the points where surfaces intersect and different materials meet.  These formal details determine the sensitive transitions within the larger proportions of the building.  The details establisch the formal rhythm, the building’s finely fractionated scale.  Details express what the basic idea of the design requeres at the relevant point in the object: belonging or separation, tension or lightness, friction, solidity, fragility… .  Details, when they are successful, are not mere decoration.  They do not distract or entertain.  They lead to an understanding of the whole of which they are an inherent part.”

[ZUMTHOR Peter, Thinking Architecture, Birkhauser, 2006]


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