Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor


Reading; Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

Text Inference:

In this text, Atmosphere defines what moves a person. This can come in forms (objects, people, air, noises, sounds, colours, material presences, textures, forms, etc.), moods, feelings and sense of expectations.

Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor elaborates about how Zumthor visions and observes when he creates an atmosphere in the houses he builds. Philosophical ventures into poetic and meaningful  atmospheres always begin with a location that links to a person, a literary event or a motif. Beauty is also taken into account when an atmosphere is being analyzed, where Outer Beauty is a measure of things, proportions and materials and Inner Beauty is the core of things. 

Atmosphere is perceived through emotional sensibility, which is instinctual in humans. When this is carried out, we are thinking linearly, otherwise known as thinking in a mentally organised fashion. This is usually largely influenced by the five senses and through the common experience.

Architectural atmosphere is also largely influenced by craft and graft. An atmosphere is a body and anatomy, which is established through collecting different objects and materials  in the world, and combining them (craft & graft) to create space. 

Image result for atmospheres peter zumthor summary movement through space

This process also involves movement, where thought can come from how people move through spaces. An immersive atmosphere, in that sense, would be a space that you can enter and begin to feel that you could stay there and not just pass by without further thought. It is a spatial art, as well as a temporal art.

Image result for atmospheres peter zumthor summary movement through space

In atmospheric design, there are also loopholes, where they are imperceptible transitions between the inside and the outside of the atmosphere. The inside and the outside of an atmosphere should communicate an impression that sends a message. For example, a person who does not like being seen will not have glass windows. Proximity and Distance then comes into play, alongside light perceptions in order to have a balanced atmosphere.


Personal Thoughts:

Through this reading, I am further enlightened about how we should view the invisible aura residing in the areas we are in; that is none other than an ‘atmosphere’. 

In my opinion, while Zumthor argues that it is the surrounding body of meanings and objects that influences our perception of how atmosphere can be, it differs slightly from my point of view. I agree that the 5 senses and experiences we have faced in our daily trials (such as movement through familiar spaces) will allow people to come to a common understanding about how an atmosphere qualifies. 

However, rather than only the experiences we face daily, I feel that our feelings and perceptions are the main driving force of what defines an atmosphere. If things are arranged haphazardly and messily, it is our feelings that tells us that the atmosphere is disturbing and hence uncomfortable. Our reactions towards the treatment of our own comfort zones is the ruler towards measuring how much a location should affect us.



How do we then differentiate a human perception defined by the location/place around us, and one that is affected by our pure emotions only?


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