Kolumba Museum / Peter Zumthor

© Jose Fernando Vazquez

Special thanks to our reader Jose Fernando Vazquez from Urbana Arquitectura (view his work previously featured on AD) who has shared these images of Zumthor’s amazing Kolumba Museum with us.   Situated in , Germany, a city that was almost completely destroyed in World War II, the museum  houses the Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s collection of art which spans more than a thousand years.   Zumthor’s design delicately rises from the ruins of a late-Gothic church, respecting the site’s history and preserving its essence.  ”They [the Archdiocese] believe in the inner values of art, its ability to make us think and feel, its spiritual values. This project emerged from the inside out, and from the place,” explained Zumthor at the museum’s opening.

More about the project and more of Vazquez’s images after the break.

Zumthor, consistently mindful of the use of the materials, and specifically their construction details, has used grey brick to unite the destroyed fragments of the site.   These fragments include the remaining pieces of the Gothic church, stone ruins from the Roman and medieval periods, and German architect Gottfried Böhm’s 1950 chapel for the “Madonna of the Ruins.”

© Jose Fernando Vazquez

The facade of grey brick integrates the remnants of the church’s facade into a new face for the contemporary museum. Articulated with perforations, the brick work allows diffused light to fill specific spaces of the museum.  As the seasons change, the”mottled light shifts and plays across the ruins,” creating a peaceful ever-changing environment.

© Jose Fernando Vazquez

The museum includes 16 different exhibition rooms and, at the heart of the building, a secret garden courtyard – a quiet and secluded place for reflection.

© Jose Fernando Vazquez

The materiality plays such an important role in the overall design, and Zumthor, known for taking his time to develop projects, searched quite awhile for the perfect material.  Handcrafted by Petersen Tegl of Denmark, the bricks were specifically developed for this project, as they were fired with charcoal to imbue a warm hue.

Source: Debra Moffitt for Architecture Week

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Kolumba Museum / Peter Zumthor" 06 Aug 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=72192>
  • arch student

    just AMAZING!

  • brb001

    I’d love to see this in person. Superb.

  • http://bum-wad.com brandon

    sorry. but these photos seem to make a truly amazing work of architecture appear flat and lifeless. Noting resembling the essence of this building comes through.

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  • http://thedesignaggregate.com/ tDA

    Absolute perfection.

  • 1. FC Koeln

    No doubt, these images are beautiful – but they leave out the best part of it: the beautiful detailing of the stair case / the amazing detailing of the intersections of walls/floor/windows / the beauty of only the goods’ lift / the mesmerizing atmosphere in the inner courtyard / the beautiful detailing/atmosphere, even in the bathrooms / the stunning reading room… – this project reflects very much, why Zumthor achieved the Pritzker Prize… and these beautiful images do not even tell half the truth!

    • AxeTB

      Agreed! I was there last year and you are absolutely right about the stairs, windows, floors, and even bathrooms! The feeling you get of walking on floating floors is wonderful, yet very hard to experience on pictures.

      I found there’s something very odd about the stairs. Going down them, they seemed to be coming right at you and I found them almost confusing.

  • El


  • Dodongo

    Beautiful building, but the stair color is completely off. Especially with the rest of the material palette. Makes it look like a utilitarian egress stair, when upon closer inspection it’s actual very well designed.

  • Jason

    Zumthor is GOD.

  • pipo

    this is not a good oroject… i expected something more beautiful