I visited the Vitra Campus in 2013 (August 26th).
To be honest, I never knew this place existed until I booked my trip to visit Ronchamp, France. What a surprise to find this place where I could visit buildings by Frank Gehry, Herzog & De Meuron, Nicholas Grimshaw, Jean Prouvé, Alvaro Siza, SANAA, and Zaha Hadid. It's an architect paradise!
Vitrahaus, by Herzog & De Meuron (2010).
I was amazed by this building since I saw the first publication. The whole design concept of these pitched roof boxes stacked one of top of the another, is like a kid creation. The idea of using volumes with the archetypal shape of the house is very appropriate, understanding that the space was design to showcase furnishing and objects for the home. I found very interesting how the lower "house" volume seems to be crushed by the weight of the others. Its a satirical twist for the stackable concept.
Vitra Design Museum, by Frank Gehry (1989).
First building designed by Frank Gehry in Europe. Gehry use his deconstructivist signature, but stayed away from the shining materials he is used to. The building was under reconstruction (what a bummer!).
Vitra Fire Station, by Zaha Hadid (1993).
The first Zaha Hadid's design to be built. Concrete in pure form and angled planes, shape this building that resemble the earliest Zaha Hadid paintings, for which she was known before officially stepping into architecture design. As described by Hadid: "The building is a representation of 'movement frozen', an 'alert' structure, ready to explode into action at any moment." Perfect design concept for a fire station in a campus that was burn to ashes a decade before.
Petrol Station, by Jean Prouvé
(Designed and built, 1953 / Installed in campus, 2003).
Pioneer in prefabrication, Jean Prouvé proved that it was possible to transfer manufacturing technology from industry to architecture. This model for gas station was design in 1953. Many were built, assemble and installed in France. Vitra installed one of the only remaining stations in 2003.
Factory Buildings, by Nicholas Grimshaw (1981).
After the famous Vitra fire, Nicholas Grimshaw was the first architect to intervene. Using prefabrication as a tribute to Vitra's industrialization, the building was completed just 6 months after the fire.
Factory Building, by Alvaro Siza (1994).
In 1994, Alvaro Siza design a very simple brick box to be used as factory for Vitra. The most important part of the building is the curved bridge roof, that not only serve as a connection with the adjacent building, but also allows the view to Zaha Hadid previously completed fire station.
Factory Building, by Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA (2012).
Almost perfectly circular, this building is cover with a acrylic glass facade with ans undulating surface (like a drape curtain!). The acrylic was made in layers, being the inner layer opaque white and the exterior later completely transparent. This cover the building in a luminous aura.
Conference Pavilion, by Tadao Ando (1993).
First Tadao Ando building outside Japan. The reminiscence of Japanese architecture can be found in how the space is arrange, and how respectful is the building with the environment. Exposed concrete and simple volumes are Ando's signature.
Architect and traveler.