Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unexpected truths. (Poetry in the words of architect Peter Zumthor)

Thermal bath at Vals, designed by Peter Zumthor. Picture from

In my youth I imagined poetry as a kind of colored cloud made up of more or less diffuse metaphors and allusions which, although they might be enjoyable, were difficult to associate with a reliable view of the world. As an architect, I have learned to understand that the opposite of this youthful definition of poetry is probably closer to the truth.
If a work of architecture consists of forms and contents which combine to create a strong fundamental mood that is powerful enough to affect us, it may possess the qualities of a work of art. This art has, however, nothing to do with interesting configurations or originality. It is concerned with insights and understanding, and above all with truth. Perhaps poetry is unexpected truth. It lives in stillness. Architecture’s artistic task is to give this still expectancy a form. The building itself is never poetic. At most, it may possess subtle qualities which, at certain moments, permit us to understand something that we were never able to understand in quite this way before.

By arch. Peter Zumthor. In his book Thinking Architecture.
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