Conference Pavilion – Tadao Ando
Destination: Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. To get there, we started off from Basel, Switzerland. From the Badisher Bahnhof Station you can get bus n° 55, which takes about 20 minutes of journey besides the transborder. The Vitra Campus is open every day from 10am to 6pm. The site is located in the middle of the countryside, and extends for yards and yards. It is made up of several buildings, most of which were designed by the biggest names of Architecture. Every day at Noon and at 2pm you can take part to the guided tour in English, which lasts about 2 hours.
It starts with the visit of the Dome by Richard Buckminster Fuller: a very “geometrical” space reminding a sort of igloo. The structure develops entirely outdoor, whereas indoor you can find a wide room, that usually hosts events and temporary exhibitions. The acoustics and lighting are excellent.
Dome - Richard Buckminster Fuller Going on, you step by the Station Service, created by the French architect and designer Jean Prouvé, and by the “Hall de Production” (8, 11 and 4).
Station Service – Jean Prouvé Hall de Production 11 - Nicholas Grimshaw Until you arrive at that which used to be the Firemen Station, designed by the famous Israeli architect Zaha Hadid. This is an architecture that goes beyond all limits. It was used for a few years to host services for the factory, but it is now a location for events.
Firemen Station outside – Zaha Hadid From the outside, the building looks like a ship breaking the waves of the sea. From the inside, a series of perspective games give an idea of asymmetry, which tends to destabilize the guest. The materials used are cement, metal and glass. On the lower floor you can find the dressing rooms, the toilets and a big garage for trucks. On the first floor there is the meeting room and the kitchen corner.
Firemen Station inside – Zaha Hadid On the way back, we stopped to observe the evolutions of the Hall de Production 8, built by Franck Gerhy, who dared to use rounded shapes and lines. And the same architect created the Vitra Design Museum dominating the main entrance of the Company.
Vitra Design Museum – Franck Gerhy To end our visit, we followed a path around the factory in order to appreciate the shapes of the museum and reach the conference Pavilion, designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando in 1993. His goal was to preserve the cherry trees which still surround the building, although he had to pull three of them down. In memory of these plants, the cement entrance wall has 3 cherry tree leaves engraved. It is called the building of silence, for his extraordinary acoustic isolation. Each spot from the inside has been studied very accurately. Materials consist of cement (together with tree ash), wood and glass.
After the guided tour, we reached the Vitra Haus, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and finished in 2010. It is the show-room of the Vitra collection, dedicated to the habitat, and it also hosts the Design Shop and the Bar.
Vitra Haus – Herzog & de Meuron Vitra Haus Design Shop