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Lynne Cooke

Zumthor, Serpentine Gallery Pavilion, 2011, London. Interior courtyard. Photo: SmallMoon/Flickr.

SOME WEEKS AGO, whipped by wind and driving rain, I navigated a just-plowed field on the lazy slopes of the Eifel, fifty-odd kilometers southeast of Cologne, in search of the Bruder Klaus Field Chapel by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor. This small, cell-like sanctuary, completed in 2007 and dedicated to a fifteenth-century hermit and mystic, offers a telling contrast with Zumthor’s most recent work, a pavilion designed for London’s Hyde Park this year. Whereas the chapel assumes the form of a simple tower, the temporary pavilion, now dismantled, proved unexpectedly severe, almost forbidding. Sheathed in a coarse fabric painted black, its somber volume was punctured on each of its long sides by a trio of unadorned doorways leading into a narrow corridor that hugged the perimeter wall. The secluded garden within was magically luminous in comparison with the dark, confined space of

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