Atmospheres by Peter Zumthor

By Peter Zumthor

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All becomes clear. A man of conscience, a man of humble origins who supported his workmen at all times, a philanthropist in his own right keen throughout his life to assist in the betterment of education and the rights of workers, had been dabbling in politics of another kind. The magnanimous Joseph did not seem to think that the Commissioners would have held this against him, but what other explanation was there? He had become embroiled in strikes and the issues surrounding them, speaking 42 at mass rallies and inciting men to join Unions.

Debts were far-reaching and many people were involved. The humiliation of failure, a very public affair, the despair at having to hand over his most ambitious work to date for another to complete, and, none the least, the need to look after his growing family,' were all serious concerns for Joseph. 37 However, he did survive. Many of his contemporaries did not. , one of the pal tilers of his former mentor Matthew Philips, fell into financial difficulties and dissolved his partnership. He moved to India to protect his family and never returned to England.

That the final result was impressive has never been in doubt, but the one valid criticism which has been expressed many times over the years was the restricted entrance. Greater space was provided for in Joseph's original design but it had to be relinquished owing to limitations imposed by the Street Commissioners. Above all it was Joseph's intent that the main internal hall should be as large as possible. A larger entrance could not have been achieved without reducing the seating capacity. However, as will be seen shortly, Joseph did not always have complete control over the final design.

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