Segments in this Video

Vals-les-Bains Introduction (00:51)


Peter Zumthor built the spa in Switzerland between 1993 and 1996. View inside and outside the structure.

Vals Hydrotherapy Center (01:14)

Hot springs have been used commercially since the 19th century. A hotel built in the 1960s went bankrupt; the village bought the property in 1986 to develop a new spa complex.

Vals Spa Concept (01:50)

The village commission chose Peter Zumthor, an unknown architect, for the project. He describes his vision of building the bath into the mountain to reflect a geological time scale.

Vals Spa Position (01:14)

Zumthor sank his building into the mountain slope to avoid blocking hotel views. Local gneiss forms a visible facade.

Vals Spa Layout (02:28)

Guests enter through a hotel corridor. An indoor and an outdoor pool appear carved into the mountain. Clientele include hotel guests, day visitors, and villagers.

Vals Architectural Vision (01:26)

Zumthor describes how he develops a concept from an image. For the spa, he visualized opening the mountain and creating a quarry.

Vals Spa Construction (01:52)

The facade reveals how Zumthor compiled unique stone units with outcropping roof sections. They fit together like a puzzle with small gaps that create light shafts.

Vals Spa "Surprise" Units (01:23)

Zumthor used color and water to create unique experiences in each block, allowing guests to invent their itinerary through the structure.

Concrete Architecture (01:12)

Zumthor discusses using building shells as instruments for spacial experiences. Vals Spa units form a large scale landscape of cliffs and fault lines.

Vals Spa Stone Walls (01:49)

For visual diversity, 60,000 one meter slabs are stacked in varying heights; their large scale creates a staging effect.

Vals Spa Vistas (01:32)

Zumthor uses mountain exposure as a confrontation between humans and nature. View the spa pools drained and cleaned at night.

Bathing Ritual (02:27)

Zumthor discusses creating a mystical experience by juxtaposing austerity and sensuality in his architecture.

Vals Spa Lighting (02:53)

View thermal pools during the day and at night. Bathers chant, creating an otherworldly experience.

Architecture and Freedom (01:28)

Zumthor defines architecture as bringing a work to life, creating a separate world, and leaving an imprint for those who enter its space.

Vals Spa Conclusion (01:38)

Against his wishes, Zumthor installed clocks in the baths. The architect created a world touching the five senses for a spiritual experience.

Credits: The Stone Thermal Baths: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture (00:54)

Credits: The Stone Thermal Baths: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

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The Stone Thermal Baths: Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture

Part of the Series : Architectures—Achievements in Modern Architecture
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The thermal baths of Vals-les-Bains designed by Peter Zumthor reinvent the concept of bathing and provide the stage-setting for a play of light on water. In the remote alpine village of Vals-les-Bains, in Switzerland, a mountain hot spring has been has enjoyed for over a century. As the tourist complex declined in the 1990s, the community decided to construct a new facility submerged in the mountain face. Foliated gneiss strata form horizontal bands visible on the façade. Inside, sixty-meter long walls and terraces juxtapose water, light, and architectural austerity to create an experience of both sensuality and spirituality.

Length: 27 minutes

Item#: BVL65354

ISBN: 978-1-60057-664-5

Copyright date: ©2001

Closed Captioned

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