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Peter Zumthor wins “Nobel prize for art”

Swiss architect Peter Zumthor has won this year's prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for architecture.

Zumthor, whose works include the Thermal Baths at Vals (1996) and the Bruder Klaus Kapelle (2007), follows in the footsteps of fellow Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron, who won the award in 2007.

The Japan Art Association has assigned the Praemium Imperiale annually since 1989 for an artist’s life work in each of five categories: painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theatre/film. It is endowed with 15 million Yen (SFr160,000).

According to the jury, Zumthor “earnestly examines the location and purpose of a building, and spares no effort in selecting the most suitable materials for it. He insists on ‘custom-made architecture'”.

Zumthor was born in Basel in 1943, began an apprenticeship in cabinet-making in 1958 and started his own practice in the Swiss village of Haldenstein in 1979.

“Whether religious buildings, art museums, thermal bath facilities or housing projects, they consistently give a strong sense of spirituality,” the Praemium Imperiale website said of Zumthor’s works.

The other 2008 laureates are Richard Hamilton (painting), Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (sculpture), Zubin Mehta (music) and Sakata Tojuro (theatre/film).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR