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Majority rules against Zumthor’s “Glass Underpants” in Isny

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© Peter Zumthor
© Peter Zumthor

The votes are in and 72 per cent of the citizens in Isny im Allgäu (Bavaria, Germany) have vetoed Peter Zumthor’s design for the new city gate commonly referred to as the “glass underpants”. As the Swiss architect is famously praised for his context-sensitive and timeless designs, the people of Isny initially felt “lucky” to have Zumthor design for their town. They had high hopes for their very own Steilneset Memorial – the Norwegian city of Vardo’s beloved installation that has brought a surge in tourism – but ultimately were disappointed. Continue reading for more.

There is no doubt that nicknames such as “glass underpants” and “molar” have assisted in the demise of the project. Critics claim the citizens were not bold enough. Reports quote urban development specialist Sonja Rube stating, “citizens were not able to realize what they were about to get.” Beyond the design, the people of Isny where also dissatisfied with the estimated 21 million Euro price tag, even though the mayor assured them the money would be provided by sponsorship funds.

© Peter Zumthor
© Peter Zumthor

Regardless, the citizens have spoken and their veto forbids the city administration to partake in any further involvement with the project. After losing the referendum, the mayor said, “Still, Isny is the world’s most beautiful city to me. And it will stay this way.”

Reference: Mapolis Magazin

Cite:Karissa Rosenfield. "Majority rules against Zumthor’s “Glass Underpants” in Isny " 16 Feb 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>