On Day Fifteen, we scrambled home from Ronchamp through the ever-present tunnels that support Switzerland’s highway system…until we got to Gotthard Pass. Here, we chose to go over this section of the Alps instead of through them. The winding, narrow road (an engineering feat in itself) lead to a sensory reward—a landscape of glacial pools and lingering snow patches (along with the necessary drop in temperature!).
Our second destination was the delightful city of Bregenz, Austria, where we visited Kuntzhaus Bregenz, a commission that Zumthor won by competition in 1992. The glass sheathed, double-walled museum and its simple black concrete annex building were completed in 1996, adding to a row of cultural institutions along the city’s major roadway.
Last stop: Vaduz, to see the yellow brick-wrapped Parliament building completed in 2000, an anchor in an administrative complex that includes the National Archives building. This project was completed in the year immediately following Zumthor’s receiving the coveted Pritzker Prize in 2009.
…or at least, his accessible work! Mathematically half way through our study tour, we ventured north and east, visiting sites in three countries—all German-speaking. In search of quintessential Peter Zumthor projects (one each from three decades of work), we traveled through the Alps to Chur, Switzerland; Bregenz, Austria; and Vaduz, Liechtenstein, to see work in wood, glass, and brick, respectively. The ride back was a bit nerve-wracking—rain, fog and heavy traffic challenged us all the way from Vaduz back to Vico….but it was worth the ride for the intellectual content we gained!
First stop was to see Zumthor’s Museum for Roman Ruins in Chur (pronounced “Kur”). Completed in 1986, the building showcases and shelters ruins discovered during a construction project in Zumthor’s home region of Graubüden, Switzerland.
‘Paradiso, Morcote’ the signs read as we drove up into the Alps from the Milan airport. I understood that Paradiso is just another town en route along the highway, but in my mind it was describing the location I was to soon find myself in; for I cannot say I have experienced much else closer to paradise than my time spent thus far in Vico Morcote.
Today marks the halfway point in the journey. So far we have ventured through four countries, over a dozen cities, and countless great works of architecture both old and new. Last evening rain settled in over the lake and this morning is providing the perfect atmosphere to reflect upon the past ten days.
Of the numerous places we have been, Vico holds the dearest place in my heart as it has become our little home away from home. Looking out at the sheets of rain falling over Lake Lugano, I am happy to be here where the setting has become a familiar and welcoming site after long days of travel. Inside the villa it is cozy and (mostly) dry, and everyone is catching up on life at their own pace, emailing, reading sketching and painting.
Hopefully the rain does not effect further travel plans throughout the week, but for today it is perfect.