Burkhalter + Sumi
Heinrich Helfenstein, Lynnette Widder
Birkhäuser, 1999 - Architecture - 207 pages
Like their compatriot Peter Zumthor, the Swiss architects Marianne Burkhalter and Christian Sumi are dedicated to an exploration of the nature of materials and construction. In the last fifteen years, they have built a series of remarkable buildings in wood and stone in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Their work is a thoughtful pursuit of the fundamentals of architectural construction -- a style that, like that of Zumthor's buildings, might be culled Alpine minimalism. Their interest in simple forms and shapes, in luminous color, in the natural grain patterns of wood, and in the opportunities afforded by joinery and other forms of craftsmanship are evident in every aspect of their built work. This comprehensive monograph includes an in-depth look at 25 of Burkhalter and Sumi's projects, including their most famous built work, the Hotel Zilrichberg. Essays by Eugene Asse, Detlef Mertins, Steven Spier, and Lynnette Widder, based respectively in Moscow, Toronto, London, and New York, explore their unique style and demonstrate the growing international acknowledgement of their practice.
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This book is a gem - it shows work done with sensibility and responsibility by a team of talented and (somewhat) understated architects; and besides the well documented details of the work, the essays written by the above-mentioned specialists are insightful and help us understand the position of two architects removed from the "starchitecture" movement of today, yet much more relevant and integrated into our times. Highly recommended.