Peter Zumthor's work can be seen from the Arctic Circle to Qatar. Now this most demanding of architects has been commissioned to design this year's Serpentine Gallery pavilion.
You would be wise not to call Peter Zumthor a monk. He may be white-bearded and dark-clad and his office, in a secluded spot outside the Swiss town of Chur, may take the form of a cloister around a garden. His studio gathered there of young acolytes may have a superficial resemblance to a cult. He may be someone who talks with reverence about his craft and who inspires extreme reverence in other architects. He may carry with him a hushed aura, in his own speech, in the way others talk of him and in his buildings. He may sometimes rise at 4am to pursue his work. He may, in his oeuvre, have a certain number of chapels, memorials and other contemplative spaces, and he may like to talk of such things as the “mystery” of materials. But at the suggestion he might be otherwordly, he becomes vehement.