You could call architecture the art of joinery—joining one material to another, joining the frame of a window to a hole in a wall, joining a building to the ground. That last one is particularly important; unless you want to hire some very expensive movers, the building will probably stay where it’s put for its entire life.

Peter Zumthor, the son of a master joiner, is himself a master of architectural joinery. The shingled walls of St. Benedict Chapel plow into the Swiss hillside on a beveled concrete base. This serves the pragmatic end of keeping the wood from touching the ground (it would rot, bugs would get in, water would be hard to keep out). Because they need to lift the building a bit above the ground, foundations are often visible (except when hedges are planted to hide them, which is known as putting parsely on the pig in the trade) but rarely interesting. A lot of architects would just use a default detail here, but Zumthor instead lets his buildings speak through their joinery.

Similarly in the Truog House (an addition to a traditional Swiss house), the joinery is breathtaking. Zumthor is a guy who understands the power of prosaic details.



This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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One Response to “Joinery”

  1. Paul Lukas

    Plus “joinery” is just a cool word!