ZUMTHOR Peter Vals Thermal Bath (1996)

The concept of the building is based on an architectural interpretation of a stone quarry. Very characteristic for the movement in the building is constant change between the very small intimate spaces and the large meandering bath.

Built using locally quarried Valser quartzite slabs, the spa building is made up of 15 different table-like units, 5 metres in height, with cantilevered concrete roof units supported by tie-beams. These units fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The nature of the construction is revealed through close inspection of the roof – the roofs of the units don’t join, with the 8 cm gaps covered by glass to prevent water ingress. Inside, this provides a dichotomy – the concrete makes the roof appear heavy, but the gaps between the units also make the roof appear to float.

The baths were designed to look as if they pre-dated the hotel complex, as if they were a form of cave or quarry-like structure. This is particularly evident from observing the grass roof structure of the baths, which resemble the foundations of an archaeological site, and reveal the form of the various bath rooms which lie below, half buried into the hill-side.

There are 60,000 one meter long sections of stone forming the cladding of the walls. They appear random like an ashlar wall but there is a regular order. The cladding stones are of three different heights, but the total of the three is always 15 cm, so it allows for variety in arrangement, whilst facilitating construction.