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!

…. drumroll …IMG_1247Zaha Hadid, Vitra Fire Station

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.

IMG_1257 IMG_1256 IMG_1258 IMG_1268 I didn’t notice the kid climbing over the fence until I was editing photos later…IMG_1284 IMG_1282Louvers!IMG_1259 IMG_1261 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.IMG_1262 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.IMG_1263 IMG_1264 Recesses in the ceiling outline the forms aboveIMG_1265 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 firefightersIMG_1274 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!IMG_1277 IMG_1278 IMG_1280