zaha hadid celebrates 20 year anniversary of vitra fire station
original content
jun 14, 2013
zaha hadid celebrates 20 year anniversary of vitra fire station


zaha hadid celebrates 20 year anniversary of vitra fire station

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the vitra fire station, zaha hadid‘s first major built work, turned 20 this week. the composition of  extruded lines and concrete volumes appears almost untouched by age and remains an incredibly important part of contemporary architectural discourse. after a fire broke out and quickly spread on the 20th of july 1981, more than half of vitra’s production facilities sustained serious damage, however, the destruction was seen as an opportunity to create a dynamic and expressive campus characterized by myriad architectural styles and distinguished by important works that expand the capabilities of architectural ideas. upon founding its very own company fire brigade, vitra commissioned hadid, still considered too daring and her vision too structurally complex, for the vitra fire house. the realized building was a pivotal point in her career and stimulated the onslaught of her provocative and still-compelling work. the structure was distinguishable by a pointed lack of right angles and made manifest the idea of a frozen explosion– the foundation of an architectonic signature comprised of dynamism and formal impossibility.

 

the building itself is divided in two and creates a linear typology for an open plan with interior lines that behave like volumes and layer within themselves. drawing from the monumental tectonic weight of richard serra, the building sports steel room dividers that continue an illusion of spatial instability. the overall effect of the intersecting concrete volumes is a sensation of energetic movement in almost tectonic proportions. mass is suspended on multiple scales, from the protruding roof to the cantilevered steps of the interior stair. while all lines meet in the center of the space and entrance, the two levels appear to slide past each other, with the upper dining hall seeming to race to a horizon line. the vitra fire station is credited as an exigent moment in zaha hadid’s career, however, the reframed impression of space seems to have more wholly contributed to the possibilities of the built form and has made room for the extraordinary in architecture.   

 

in a talk with deyan sudjic, director of the design museum london, the architect mused about the development of her work, creative camaraderie with rolf fehlbaum, chairman of vitra furniture company, and lessons from rem koolhaas:

 

 

 

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elevation view of the fire station 20 years later

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the garage space was opened for the first time in seven years

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a distant siza is filtered by the tectonic likes of zaha’s soaring concrete lines

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volumetric lines layer in the deceptively long space

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interior of the main space

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changing areas for the fire fighters

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even highly functional programming is understood as an opportunity for formal expression

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a building fundamentally about line, the structure reframes the realationship between interior and exterior with a sensitive material palette

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the celebration also highlighted seminal zaha works at a different scale– namely those that continue ideas posited by the building itself

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the same painter of the ‘golden wall’ that so characterized the building was again commissioned for a celebratory work that introduced the new swarovski installation

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model of the swarovski-commissioned installation for the anniversary of the station, which is a extrusion of the original drawing of the work

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the painting depicts the new installation in the context of the firehouse

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(left): the painting in situ

(right): model views show etched lines and faceted forms

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model view- see designboom’s previous coverage here.

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teh dining area shows a building almost untouched by age and still incredibly relevant to architectural discourse

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exterior shading devices are not an aesthetic hinderance, but rather continue the dialogue of lines, planes and frames

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exterior view of the dining hall articulates early ideas about intersecting volumes and extruded lines 

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exterior view

image © vitra

 

 

view of the building once it superseded its fire station programming

image © vitra

 

 

models and paintings show the important beginnings of a career-long formal language

image © vitra

 

 

early painterly representation of the fire house

image © vitra

 

 

image © vitra

 

 

zaha and siza in dialogue

image © vitra

 

 

the architect emphasized the importance of optimism and the potential of architecture to change cities, all bolstered with anecdotes and sharp wit

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