“Mountain, stone, water – building in stone, building with stone, building into the mountain, building out of the mountain, being inside the mountain – how is it possible to create an architectural interpretation of the meaning and sensory significance contained in these words by translating them into architecture?” – this was the underlying question pursued by Peter Zumthor in creating his world-famous masterpiece.
Born in Basel in 1943, he initially trained as a carpenter before going on to study interior architecture in Basel and New York. He then worked for ten years in historical monument preservation in Canton Grisons, where he still lives today and runs his own architecture practice. An internationally acclaimed architect, he has won numerous awards including the coveted Pritzker Prize (2009) for lifetime achievement.
Where the thermal baths stand today, clay fragments were found dating back to the Crestaulta culture - Middle Bronze Age, about 1300 to 1500 BC. Even at that time, the people here appreciated the pleasant temperature (30° Celsius) and soothing power of the thermal spring water.
The apothecary Capeller first subjected the spring water to a chemical examination in 1826. His medical colleague J.A. Kaiser then carried out an analysis that confirmed the water’s healing, therapeutic qualities. The temperature and mineral content are soothing and antispasmodic. An unforgettable experience.
St. Peter’s spring with its temperature of 30° Celsius was first tapped in 1891, and the Vals spa house opened just two years later in summer 1893 with 60 beds and a bathhouse.
Kurt Vorlop took over management in 1964 and developed the spa house into a spa centre with thermal baths and a wave pool. The facility saw its festive public opening in 1970. The municipality of Vals acquired the spa hotel in 1983 and drew up plans to refurbish the spa centre and enhance the feel-good experience for guests.
The reconstruction initiated by the municipality of Vals was carried out by well-known Grisons architect Peter Zumthor. He created an archaic masterpiece out of 60,000 slabs of Vals quartzite: it was classified as a listed building just two years after opening.