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  7. The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor

  • 01:00 - 11 February, 2009
The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor
The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor +11

  • Architects

  • Location

    Graubünden, Switzerland
  • Architects

    Peter Zumthor, with Marc Loeliger, Thomas Durisch and Rainer Weitschies
  • Project Year


From the architect. Built over the only thermal springs in the Graubunden Canton in Switzerland, The Therme Vals is a hotel and spa in one which combines a complete sensory experience designed by Peter Zumthor.

Peter Zumthor designed the spa/baths which opened in 1996 to pre date the existing hotel complex. The idea was to create a form of cave or quarry like structure. Working with the natural surroundings the bath rooms lay below a grass roof structure half buried into the hillside. The Therme Vals is built from layer upon layer of locally quarried Valser Quarzite slabs. This stone became the driving inspiration for the design, and is used with great dignity and respect.

“Mountain, stone, water – building in the stone, building with the stone, into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain – how can the implications and the sensuality of the association of these words be interpreted, architecturally?” Peter Zumthor

This space was designed for visitors to luxuriate and rediscover the ancient benefits of bathing. The combinations of light and shade, open and enclosed spaces and linear elements make for a highly sensuous and restorative experience. The underlying informal layout of the internal space is a carefully modelled path of circulation which leads bathers to certain predetermined points but lets them explore other areas for themselves. The perspective is always controlled. It either ensures or denies a view.

“The meander, as we call it, is a designed negative space between the blocks, a space that connects everything as it flows throughout the entire building, creating a peacefully pulsating rhythm. Moving around this space means making discoveries. You are walking as if in the woods. Everyone there is looking for a path of their own.” Peter Zumthor

The fascination for the mystic qualities of a world of stone within the mountain, for darkness and light, for light reflections on the water or in the steam saturated air, pleasure in the unique acoustics of the bubbling water in a world of stone, a feeling of warm stones and naked skin, the ritual of bathing – these notions guided the architect. Their intention to work with these elements, to implement them consciously and to lend them to a special form was there from the outset. The stone rooms were designed not to compete with the body, but to flatter the human form (young or old) and give it space…room in which to be.

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address. Cite: "The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor" 11 Feb 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


BG · September 16, 2016

Why are so many of the pictures blurry? :/

Petrillo · November 22, 2013

Modernity in that sense is seen to have a cyclical nature. For modernity has shown to have multiple meanings rather than just one. Design strives to reinterpret and to discover. Peter Zumthor obviously takes part in this with his lack of ornamentation, play of light in a chiaroscuro manner, and his reflections of Corbusian ideals.

Aaron Logan · October 27, 2013

Nice plagiarism in this article.

Jonas Hz · July 28, 2012

Wanna go here

Panagiota Kaltsa · July 01, 2012

The Therme Vals Spa designed by Peter Zumthor is a must visit @MySwitzerland_e #architecture #relaxation

Galaxy Ray · June 28, 2012

A masterpiece by a living master, Peter Zumthor. via @archdaily

daily backlink service · April 21, 2012

Hi there, You've performed a fantastic job. I'll certainly digg it and in my view recommend to my friends. I am sure they'll be benefited from this site.

Jana · April 17, 2012

@SelmaKocan tuka li beshe? #velelepno

VB Lighting · April 17, 2012

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor

Marat Nevlyutov · April 07, 2012

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily ? ??????? @archdaily

jeremy hughes · April 04, 2012

@JackieBaisa duh. confusing it w/ another tunnel project i watched a show about. i&#39ll ride that train tho, then go here

Kristin Carao · March 07, 2012

Mosby and I clearly geeked out and have now planned to go to this awesome place! when we get the money of course :P

Ben Capper · February 29, 2012

Looking forward to tomorrow..!!!
Flying out to Peter Zumthor&#39s Thermal Spa in Vals, the Swiss Alps for 5 days

Emily Jane Davies · February 02, 2012

An oldie but a goodie #zumthor #spa #vals If you aren&#39t aware of this one lose 10 #architecture points! @ArchDaily

martin Leal · October 18, 2011

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily via @archdaily @manolopinera @fmullerm

Molly · September 20, 2011

One of the places I went on that trip was The Therme Vals. Magical.

Miguel Otero · September 19, 2011

My favorite architecture project yet.
The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily via @archdaily

Mikey Munoz · August 13, 2011

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily

Mark Alan Hughes · July 28, 2011

One of my favs. Went to his spa a few yrs ago: magical RT @gsteuer Love to see in Philly Zumthor

Maï Stl · July 27, 2011

great architecte - The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily via @archdaily

mysnooze · April 29, 2011

We like Therme Vals&#39s neat design and high altitude scenery. An outstanding and yet personal experience #spa #travel

Luis Lagos · March 24, 2011 vean las fotos interiores, weon pa imaginarse eso, pensarlo y que te salga, soloeresunmaster

legal highs that work · November 14, 2010

Keep working, great job! Exactly what I had to know.

bluevertical · October 26, 2010

The Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor #architecture #interiordesign #minimalism #spa *i so want/need to go here. now! :)

Andrew Padgett · October 17, 2010

The Therme Vals / Peter Zumthor | ArchDaily via @archdaily

St. Stephen · April 20, 2010

Currently Browsing:

Graham Cowen · April 02, 2010

Oh my! Need to go there now! RT @bluevertical The Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor *love zumthor & this is one reason why

bluevertical · April 02, 2010

The Therme Vals by Peter Zumthor #architecture #spa #switzerland *love zumthor & this is one reason why (@EBArchDesign)

Joshua · August 25, 2009

Architecture isn't fashion, but nor is it 'timeless.' It has a context, a set of contraints and an intellectual grounding, those things are all based in a certain time. It isn't, and shouldnt be, fashion, the scale is entirely different, the amount of intelligence that goes into the design of a skirt someone wears for 5 months is not comparable to the life span of a 50 year building.

However, all architecture is rooted in a time frame, a context, a background. To see a work as 'timeless' is naive, overly simplistic and plain old dangerous.

Zumthor, as great as he is [and he is great] is no more timeless than Gropius Mies or Aalto. Muchless, Gwathmey, Meier and Eisenman.

scottmft · October 24, 2009 08:06 AM

i apologize...'timeless' is the wrong word-'enduring' might be a better choice...i wasn't referring to it as beyond its' context, both physical and temporal...i guess i was responding to its' success as a response to the very real physicality of it...and i think that is what everybody loves about it-it is not about image-making, formal excitement-it is about being a warm human body in's crazy, but that sense is not discussed a lot from what i hear in architectural circles these days- a human body is just a data point in a MRVDV study...oh, and i love that you mentioned aalto...but i do not have the same love for gwathmey, meier and eisenman...too cold, trendy and intellectual for me-like the thom mayne of the 60's and 70's...

Scottmft · August 22, 2009

Definitely a masterpiece...I think the lesson here is that contemporary architecture needs to connect with the eternal lessons...experience, material, can one parametrically model the soul?

Phill · August 22, 2009

Have experienced this for myself - one of the most relaxing and peaceful spaces i've ever been to.

Archlad · August 07, 2009

Quite different, but also great leisure architecture

Filipe (colombia) · August 07, 2009


Robert · April 18, 2009

I quite agree on the comments about Therme Vals. It is a timeless piece of Architecture. Alejandro you cite that it is not even 15 years old, yet it has the appearance of being there for longer. This is a combination of the choice of materials and the solid robust fastidious construction.

I agree with many comments that this building can be revisited in comments. Who cares if it is old news to some. Zumthor is finally getting some attention for his work. This week since his Pritzker win the AJ site has been dominated by Zumthor articles when normally the journalist of this magazine would be neeling at the feet of Zaha, Cook, and Foster.

alejandro · April 17, 2009

"keep posting the classics"
It´s no even 15 years old for God's sake! and many if not all ideas behind it are very contemporary- don´t mix architecture and fashion! please...

Robert · April 14, 2009

Awesome building. Don't just look at the photos as the experience is much better in reality. Also the hotel has some very nice food!!!

Ugaitz · April 08, 2009


Gomendiorik onena, bainujantzia hartu, eta bertara joatea...


vp · March 09, 2009

John, I think Zumthor would say that architecture is only relevant when it is timeless. I agree somewhat. In the sense of fashion, we have moved on - but in the sense of architectural and spatial experience (the true purpose of architecture), this is one of the true masterpieces. I don't care whether Therme Vals is posted every ten years for the next two centuries, it'll still be good architecture.

John · March 04, 2009

didnt we move on from this a long time ago?

neutra · February 16, 2009

a gift to the senses
just perfect!!!

Nate · February 13, 2009

One of the most fantastic buildings we have ever experienced.

pedja · February 12, 2009

true masterpiece......bravo!!!

Nicolás Verdejo · February 12, 2009

Amazing, marvelous.
Never its too late to post a building as this one.

cocteau · February 11, 2009


Opium · February 11, 2009

For there is only one God...

Megan Pryor · February 11, 2009

I want to be here:

Andy Marshall · February 11, 2009

Therm Vals Switzerland 1996 Contemporary slick green roofed spa hotel by Zumthor et al #pevstweet

Kidplastic · February 11, 2009

You can see the dvd 'Architecture vol.2' by R. Copans (Arte video) about therme vals.

heaven · December 14, 2009 12:52 AM

where can i find it (for free download)?
would you kindly introduce some sites for downloading architecture DVDs (or any other video formats)? i really need them! i teach english to architecture students, they prefer movies as basic material.

Artem · February 11, 2009


tchouah · February 11, 2009

Master piece... eternal

MattHuskins · September 03, 2009 09:35 PM

Hey, Im doing a project on this structure and Im trying to find some sort of site plan or areal photograph of the site, any help?

toast · February 11, 2009

great building but old news

Jan Nubel · February 11, 2009

obra maestra


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瓦尔斯浴场 / Peter Zumthor