Monday, April 13, 2009

The Gods of Architecture.

Architecture is an immodest, polytheistic faith: Adherents (architects) believe that the built world effects cultures and societies. The practice of this faith involves a lot of time in front of a computer and requires regular pilgrimage to the many houses of worship around the world. In August of 2006 I made one of many such pilgrimages with Matthias, this time to Switzerland, where we visited a number of holy sites, including the Hotel Therme in Vals, simply known as Vals by believers.

The bath is sunk into a hillside and nearly hidden from the tiny village it resides in. The walls, inside and out, are comprised of stacked slabs of quartzite, one of the most exquisite greys I've ever seen. Inside, bathers can soak in pools of mineral water of varying temperatures. One pool, small and enclosed, separate from the others, even provides water infused with flower petals. After bathing, you can relax before great windows that fame the picture-perfect surrounding Alps.

Today it was announced that the architect of the bath, Peter Zumthor, is the 33rd winner of the Nobel-equivalent prize for architects, the Pritzker Prize. In the world of architecture, there is no higher honor.

The New York Times headline reads, "Under-the-Radar Swiss Architect Wins Pritzger." The newspaper is obviously ignorant of the gods of architecture.