Peter Zumthor’s werkraum house has just opened in the bucolic village of andelsbuch in austria. The starkly horizontal composition of wide-grain dark wood and generous glazing will serve as a exhibition hall for bregenzerwald werkraum, an association that provides a platform for traditional craftsmen and small businesses that keep alive analog methods of craft and engineering in an era of omnipresent manufacturing technology. The 85 firms bolstered by the organization draw specialized skill sets from the forested makeup of the landscape– wood processing, joiners, carpenters, cobblers, stonemasons and bricklayers make up the heart of the conservationist group.
Zumthor’s career-long concern with craftsmanship in architecture is clearly expressed in the werkraum house, with an impeccably joined protruding roof and bands of reflective glass that draw in the landscape. The building functions as both a showcase for methods passed down through generations and a meeting place for the public as well as the remaining keepers of that knowledge.