The Vitra Design Museum is a misleading title… It is still a working factory campus, and the Vitra company is family-owned and has given several leading designers their start throughout the years. The only thing museum-y about it are the two smaller Gehry gallery buildings; the Vitra Haus is more of a showroom that highlights the fact that they have produced all the cool stuff over the last 80 years.
Renata and I did the architectural tour which takes you through several of the architectural projects that were commissioned by Vitra on their campus — and they are still building some!
This was Hadid’s first project where she was given full artistic license. It was completed in 1993, but only in use as a volunteer fire station for two years, because the demand was not as great as anticipated, and the fire control resources were relocated within Weil am Rhein.
I didn’t notice the kid climbing over the fence until I was editing photos later… Louvers! The roof on the garage actually has a very prominent seam, and ‘butterflies’ to distribute its huge weight; as you can imagine the engineering of this project was outrageously difficult. Rather than building a tower for the hoses to dry, as in a traditional firehouse, Hadid put this half-wall, which is heated from the inside. The hoses were hung over the wall to dry, and took up much less space. Recesses in the ceiling outline the forms above It was fun to see this architectural masterwork in use for a children’s art workshop; this space was previously used as a fitness area for firefighters It is difficult to see from this picture, and also difficult to imagine, but this bathroom made me seasick. Hadid played with perspective in such a way that the bathroom walls are built at opposing angles; it is disorienting and you don’t expect it!