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Last year, IT and I went to visit the Vitra Campus – located just across the Swiss-German border in Weil am Rhein. Much of what is written below came from their web site which is very informative. They also have a great drone video of the campus here.

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The Vitra Campus comprises a public and a private area. In the public space, you will find the Vitra Design Museum, the VitraHaus and the Vitra Silde Tower. The private area, where the production facilities are located, can only be accessed as part of an architectural tour (on which these photos were taken).

VitraHaus (see later post)

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In 1981, a fire destroyed the majority of the production facilities used by Vitra. The resulting reconstruction provided an opportunity to produce various buildings with renowned architects. The company decided to built its own firehouse. The Vitra Fire Station was the first full-scale work by Zaha Hadid ever to be realised. See later post.

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Nicholas Grimshaw was chosen as the first architect to rebuild the Campus. As the insurance funds only covered a six-month interruption in production, Grimshaw designed a factory constructed from simple prefabricated metal elements.

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The horizontally striated façade made of corrugated sheet metal bears witness to the industrial purpose of the building as well as the technological competence of the company.

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The Vitra Design Museum building was designed by the American architect Frank Gehry as his first project in Europe. See later post about this museum.

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Designed by the Japanese architectural office SANAA, the Vitrashop Factory Building was completed in 2012. The building has a nearly circular footprint and consists of two adjoining semi-circular concrete shells.

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The flowing character of the building’s exterior is created by a white curtain façade made of undulating acrylic panels.

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Although the production hall is larger than any of the other factory buildings on the Vitra Campus, the façade gives it a light, almost floating appearance.

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The Schaudepot is the second building on campus by the architects Herzog & de Meuron. The new structure was not yet opened when we visited but opened later in 2016. It combines the simple appearance of an industrial building with the complex requirements of a walk-in museum repository.

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Balancing Tools by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje van Bruggen

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The sculpture was commissioned by the children of Vitra company founder Willi Fehlbaum as a gift for his seventieth birthday. It depicts the three main tools employed by upholsters who play a central role in the production of furniture.

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Dome by Richard Buckminster Fuller

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Petrol Station. Jean Prouvé was an important engineer, architect and designer of the post-war era. He developed furniture and buildings based on carefully constructed metal structures produced in his own metalworking shop.

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The Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando was the architect’s first work outside Japan.

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The centrepiece of the building consists of a sunken courtyard that seems to conceal the surrounding environment and lends the building an almost monastic tranquillity and intimacy.

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Posts to come will cover the VitraHaus, Design Museum and the firehouse.

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