One of the most iconic works by the 2009 Pritzker Prize winner, Peter Zumthor, Therme Vals is built from locally quarried quartzite over the only thermal springs in Graubünden. It was built between 1993 and 1996 and inaugurated on December 14 1996. The building is so special that only two years after its inauguration, it was already granted protected heritage status. The music video for Janet Jackson's song Every Time, released in 1998, was also filmed inside Therme Vals.
Overall, a total of 60000 quartzite slabs with a length of 1m each were used in the construction of the building. It resembles a quarry from which large cubic volumes have been removed.
The source of the water is the St. Petersquelle, which is owned by the town of Vals. It is one of the most naturally mineralized waters in Switzerland and is used half for the baths and half for the Valser bottled water. The water is captured at a depth of 95 meters and is 30C warm.
The hallway leading to the changing rooms contains five fountains from which ferrous mineral water flows, colouring the quartzite wall and floor.
The central pool's roof contains sixteen windows made of blue Spanish glass. They can be illuminated by lamps so that the blue light is still present during the evening and night. The temperature of the central pool is 32C.
In total, there are 7 different pools all with their own particular ambiance and ranging in temperature from 14 to 42 degrees Celsius. They have different sizes, different lighting and some even have a scent or soundscape.
Brass cups can be used to collect and drink the unfiltered spring water.
The larger outdoor pool opens onto a terrace and towards the stars. At 30-33C, its water is cooler in the summer months than in winter when it is 36C warm.
Originally the property of the town of Vals, Therme Vals was sold in 2012 to real estate entrepreneur Remo Stoffel. In the spring of 2022, the citizens of Vals voted unanimously for a buyback and the thermal baths are now owned by a community foundation. The three-person foundation board is composed of Peter Zumthor, a representative of the municipality and a representative of the Grisons Heritage Protection service.