Zumthor discusses materials in architecture and their poetic qualities. He discusses methods of representation, the potential for details to communicate scale, and the role of permeability in architecture.
Zumthor explains his goal of making buildings which have a "self evident presence". He asserts that a building should appear as a completion of a landscape. He expresses his affection for the working drawing. He compares the working drawing to the finished drawing, explaining that the preliminary work is full of certainty and confidence and express secret intentions which the fully assembled drawing no longer portray.
Zumthor describes his work as an effort to prepare a realm of silence. He argues that the written work of architects is often lacking in poetic intention.
Zumthor argues that every work of architecture is a commentary on trends, history, and context. He questions the role of the architect and insists that he ask bold and critical questions in a time of dissolving identities. He explains that the building must speak for itself and create new meanings and understandings regarding its context. Zumthor argues that if architecture is exposed to life it and can develop a richness if its body is sensitive enough. He then explores the poetics of physical traces and the role of time. He argues that structure and function cannot be separated from qualities of mood. Zumthor argues that architecture should speak its own language, a language that must be directly related to its context.