The prize, worth $100,000, is given for a body of work across a career, and is mainly valued for the prestige and commissions it can bring.
Zumthor's works are found mainly in his native Switzerland, as well as elsewhere in Europe and the US.
His most famous commission is the thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland.
Peter Zumthor is about as far as its possible to be from the star names who have recently dominated architecture.
He has worked in his native Switzerland for the past 30 years and has become known for quietly elegant museums, housing complexes and hotels with a fondness for using natural materials and a great interest in the the interior spaces he creates.
He trained as a cabinet maker and there's a strong feel of craft and care to his work.
He says he doesn't ally himself to an ideology or school of architecture, but aims above all at creating an interior suited to place and use, simple principles aimed at producing human architecture.
One extraordinary recent building is a chapel built by wrapping concrete round a wigwam structure of tree trunks.
Zumthor then burnt away the trunks, leaving the imprint of the wood as the texture of the interior, which retains the smell of charred wood.
Zumthor is said to turn down most requests to design, embarking only on projects he feels a passion for and which he then oversees from start to finish.more