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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. See our earlier posts about the Campus and the company’s showrooms. We joined a walking tour of the private areas of the Campus – the factories, the warehouse and the fire station.


Zaha Hadid’s first completed building is perhaps the most famous fire station in the world. The building was commissioned after a disastrous fire at the Vitra factory in 1981.


Completed in 1994, the building housed a garage for fire engines along with another wing containing locker rooms, showers and common areas.


The slanting walls are not caused by my camera, they do not meet at right angles.


The sharp-angled sculptural forms yells “emergency!’ The walls seem to glide past each other.


According to her firm’s web site, the fire station “emerges as a linear layered series of walls, between which program elements are contained – a representation of “movement frozen” – an alert structure, ready to explode into action at any moment.”


This building is a key work of so-called Deconstructivism and of late twentieth-century architecture in general.


For architecture pilgrims, the Vitra Campus is a mecca and this fire station is a high point. Since it no longer functions as a fire station, we were invited inside to sit in the conference room.


The fire station represents the earliest attempt to translate Hadid’s fantastical, powerful conceptual drawings into a functional architectural space.


This Fire House project – a complex construction of tilted and clashing planes – looks very different from her later, organic designs.


Vitra’s voluntary fire fighting team decided to co-operate with the professional city fire brigade and dissolved the factory-based fire fighting teams. As a consequence Vitra no longer needed a fire station and the building became a space for lectures, concerts, and exhibitions.


Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004.


She worked for her former professors, Koolhaas and Zenghelis, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, becoming a partner in 1977.


Hadid established her own London-based architecture practice in 1980.


On 31 March 2016, Hadid died of a heart attack in a Miami. We did a post about her building in Hyde Park, London (here) shortly after her death.



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