Elemental simplicity on a Devon hilltop

As the sight lines to Peter Zumthor’s Secular Retreat open up for the first time, it is the tenderness of the encircling trees that strikes. Closer to, the sensuous, frozen fluidity of the texture, tone and pattern of its surfaces fills the visual field, always in intimate counterpoint with the crisp articulation of the forms. And as one passes around and through, it is the intensity of intention, expressed in the precise configuration of mass and transparency, that settles deep in one’s thoughts.


John Pawson