In this research Peter Zumthor’s architecture is studied in order to understand the architect’s choices and synthetic manipulations causing the sense that the space emits, i.e. the feeling of atmosphere.
More specifically, in the first part, the way Zumthor works is analyzed and it becomes clear that the place of the building and the phase of materialization are important to him. Then, the notion of atmosphere is examined based on the theory of phenomenology, as expressed by Merleau-Ponty and Bachelard, as well as the ambulatory vision, as defined by the ecological psychology of Gibson, in combination with the architect’s theoretical work. Through this process it turns out that living experience is the most appropriate way to approach an architecture of atmosphere, like Zumthor’s. Also, materiality of his buildings is explored as a feature of atmosphere and thus it is proved that photography is not an appropriate mean to make it comprehensible. Finally, the contribution of the relationship between light and shadow to this process is examined.
In the second part, the research is focused on the visit and study of two of his buildings, the Kolumba museum and the Bruder Klaus field chapel. Then, there is a description of the experience of the visit during which the differences between experience and photography are perceived in practice. In addition, some other elements that contribute to the atmosphere of these buildings are noticed. Finally, it is attempted to answer some questions in order to understand how phenomenological and ambulatory perception are activated by space syntax. By extension, with which tools is it possible to produce similar qualities and experiences. Τhe main manipulations have to do with the configuration of space, which defines movement, the relationship between interior and exterior and the transitions. Thus, it is concluded that atmosphere is a combination of things and is not exclusively defined by geometry.