Weil am Rhein | the architecture of the Vitra Campus
Weil am Rhein D-79576
Photos: Inexhibit and courtesy of Vitra
Aerial view of the Vitra Campus, courtesy of Vitra
The Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein | a built architectures collection
The Vitra Campus is not simply a corporate museum but actually a unique collection of contemporary architectures, promoted by one of the most prestigious furniture companies around and a manufacturer which name is deeply connected to some of the leading designers of modernity, like Charles and Ray Eames.
Where else you can see, within an area of few square kilometres, an ensemble of buildings designed throughout 35 years by Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron, Sanaa, Alvaro Siza, and Jean Prouvé, just to name a few?
The Vitra Campus also represented a place of architectural experimentation; the Fire Station was the first Zaha Hadid’s built project and the Conference Pavilion is the first design by Tadao Ando outside Japan.
Everything at the Campus has an international connotation; from the place where it is located, a point on the map of Europe where three countries, Switzerland, France and Germany, converge to the architects involved in the project, coming from Europe, the Unites States and Japan.
A view of the Vitra Haus by Herzog & de Meuron. Foreground: Airstream kiosk, 1968-2011; an original 1968 Airstream trailer, restored and placed at the campus in 2011, is used as a takeaway in Summer. Image courtesy of Vitra.
View of the Vitra Campus entrance. Foreground, one of the bus stop shelters designed by Jasper Morrison in 2006; background, the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry, 1989. Photo Inexhibit
The Vitra Campus history is rather recent and has began in 1981 when, after a fire that destroyed a large part of the company’s premises, it was envisaged to appoint various contemporary architects for the design of the new buildings.
The structures built at the Vitra Campus are 16 so far. Production workshops, such as the Factory buildings, designed by Alvaro Siza in 1994 and by Sanaa in 2012; lightweight structures like the Petrol Stations designed by Jean Prouvè in the early fifties, the two bus stations by Jasper Morrison added in 2006 and Diogene, the minimal house designed by Renzo Piano; exhibition venues such as the 1989 Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry and the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid, at first built as a firemen’s hall and today used as a space for temporary exhibitions; multi-functional buildings like the poetic Conference pavilion of Tadao Ando and the Vitra Haus, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and completed in 2010.
Building Factory by Alvaro Siza, 1994. Courtesy of Vitra
Dome. After Richard Buckminster Fuller, 1975/2000
The Dome was installed at the Vitra Campus in 2000 and is currently used for temporary exhibitions. Left: photo courtesy of Vitra. Right: photo Inexhibit.
The Fire Station by Zaha Hadid, 1993. Initially a firemen’s hall, it is now used for temporary exhibitions and special events oranized by the Vitra Design Museum.
Up: external view, courtesy of Vitra
Down: external and internal views and view of the terrace. Photos by Inexhibit
View of the Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando, 1993.
The building, lying alone in the middle of a lawn and arranged on two levels one of which under the ground, is the first realized by the architect outside Japan. During the pavilion design, Ando tried to maintain as many existing trees as possible; but three of them couldn’t actually be saved, thus their memory” was preserved by impressing some of their leaves on the bare concrete façade of the building. Photo Inexhibit
Vitra Haus, the show-room building of Vitra was completed in 2010 on a design by Herzon & de Meuron. Photo Inexhibit
Jean Prouvé, Petrol Station 1953-2003. Realized in 1953 for Mobil Oil – Socony Vacuum, the Petrol Station is a modular structure made of aluminium sheets and profiles. In 2003 three of them were installed at the Vitra Campus. Photo courtesy of Vitra.
Factory building by Sanaa, 2012. The façade presents a curved shape due to logistic requirements and helps reducing truck movements and manoeuvres. Right: a detail of the building envelope. Photos courtesy of Vitra.
Diogene, a minimalist house with a surface of 6 square metres only, conceived by Renzo Piano and realized in 2013. Despite its reduced dimension, Diogene is an highly innovative project in terms of sustainability and low energy consumption.
The Vitra Design Museum is a museum dedicated to industrial design and architecture located in Germany at short distance from the Swiss city of Basel.