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BUILDING
 
 
VitraHaus
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DESIGNER
 
 
Herzog & de Meuron
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CONTEXT
 
Location
VitraHaus, Herzog & de Meuron, Vitra, Weil-am-Rhein, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron
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DESCRIPTION
 
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Herzog & de Meuron VitraHaus Weil am RheinIn January 2004, Vitra launched its Home Collection, which includes design classics as well as re-editions and products by contemporary designers. As a company whose previous activity was primarily focused on office furnishings and business clients, Vitra created the Home Collection with a new target group in mind: individual customers with an interest in design.

Since no interior space was available for the presentation of the Home Collection on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, the company commissioned Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron in 2006 to design the VitraHaus. Thanks to its exposed location and striking appearance, it not only enhances the already outstanding ensemble of Vitra architecture, but assumes the important role of marking the Vitra Campus. Standing on the northern side of the grounds in front of the fenced perimeter of the production premises, the VitraHaus joins two other buildings in this area, the Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry (1989) and the Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando (1993). The ample size of the plot made it possible to position the new structure a good distance away from the Vitra Design Museum and adjacent gatehouse, making room for an extension of the orchard meadow in front of the buildings, a typical feature of the local landscape.

Herzog & de Meuron VitraHaus Weil am Rhein Campus VitraThe concept of the VitraHaus connects two themes that appear repeatedly in the oeuvre of Herzog & de Meuron: the theme of the archetypal house and the theme of stacked volumes. In Weil am Rhein, it was especially appropriate to return to the idea of the ur-house, since the primary purpose of the five-storey building is to present furnishings and objects for the home. Due to the proportions and dimensions of the interior spaces – the architects use the term 'domestic scale' – the showrooms are reminiscent of familiar residential settings. The individual 'houses', which have the general characteristics of a display space, are conceived as abstract elements. With just a few exceptions, only the gable ends are glazed, and the structural volumes seem to have been shaped with an extrusion press. Stacked into a total of five storeys and breathtakingly cantilevered up to fifteen metres in some places, the twelve houses, whose floor slabs intersect the underlying gables, create a three-dimensional assemblage – a pile of houses that, at first glance, has an almost chaotic appearance.

Herzog & de Meuron VitraHaus Weil am Rhein Campus VitraThe charcoal colour of the exterior stucco skin unifies the structure, 'earths' it and connects it to the surrounding landscape. Like a small, vertically layered city, the VitraHaus functions as an entryway to the Campus. A wooden plank floor defines an open central area, around which five buildings are grouped: a conference area, an exhibition space for the chair collection of the Vitra Design Museum and a conglomerate comprising the Vitra Design Museum Shop, the lobby with a reception area and cloakroom, and a café with an outdoor terrace for summer use. A lift takes visitors to the fourth storey, where the circular tour begins. Upon exiting the lift, the glazed northern end of the room offers a spectacular view of the Tüllinger Hill. The opposite end – where the glass front is recessed to create an exterior terrace – opens to a panorama of Basel with the industrial facilities of the pharmaceutical sector. As one discovers on the path through the VitraHaus, the directional orientation of the houses is hardly arbitrary, but is determined by the views of the surrounding landscape.

Herzog & de Meuron VitraHaus Weil-am-Rhein Campus VitraThe complexity of the interior space arises not only from the angular intersection of the individual houses but also from the integration of a second geometrical concept. All of the staircases are integrated into expansive, winding organic volumes that figuratively eat their way through the various levels of the building like a worm, sometimes revealing fascinating visual relationships between the various houses, at other times blocking the view. The interior walls are finished in white in order to give priority to the furniture displays.

Herzog & de Meuron, VitraHaus, Weil-am-Rhein, Campus VitraWith maximum dimensions of 57 metres in length, 54 metres in width and 21.3 metres in height, the VitraHaus rises above the other buildings on the Vitra Campus. The deliberate intention was not to create a horizontal building, the common type for production facilities, but rather a vertically oriented structure with a small footprint, which grants an overview in multiple senses: an overview of the surrounding landscape and the factory premises, but also an overview of the Home Collection. Just as interior and exterior spaces interpenetrate, so do two types of forms: the orthogonal-polygonal, as perceived from the exterior, and the organic, which produces a series of spatial surprises in the interior – a 'secret world' (in the words of Herzog & de Meuron) with a suggestive, almost labyrinthine character. On their path through the five storeys, visitors traverse the Vitra Home cosmos, ultimately returning to their starting point.

The VitraHaus has a daytime view and a night time view. In the evening, the perspective is reversed. During the day, one gazes out of the VitraHaus into the landscape, but when darkness falls, the illuminated interior of the building glows from within, while its physical structure seems to dissipate. The rooms open up; the glazed gable ends turn into display cases that shine across the Vitra Campus and into the surrounding countryside.
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LOCATION
 
Continent
Europe
Nation
Germany [Deutschland]
Land
Baden-Württemberg
District
Freiburg im Breisgau
Town
Weil-am-Rhein
Neighborhoods
Campus Vitra
Address
Charles-Eames-Straße 2
 
 
Website
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
Main
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for cultural activities
Permanent exhibitions and installations
Commercial buildings
Showrooms
Additional
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for cultural activities
Conference halls
Commercial buildings
Shops
Bars, cafeterias
Restaurants
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
2006 - 2007    
Realisation
2007 - 2010
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BIBILIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES
 
 
"VitraHaus", in Jean-François Chevrier (ed.), El Croquis 152-153, IV-V 2010 [Herzog & de Meuron. 2005-2010. Programa, monumento, paisaje/Programme, monument, landscape], pp. 46-79
"VitraHaus, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Herzog & de Meuron", A+U. Architecture and Urbanisme 477, june 2010 [Living in, looking out], pp. 10-23
Justin McGuirk, "VitraHaus, Weil am Rhein. Herzog & de Meuron", Icon 82, april 2010, pp. 60-66
Anniina Koivu (ed.), "La casa delle case/The House of Houses", Abitare 500, marzo/march 2010, "Architettura/Architecture" pp. 78-93
"Una domenica a Vitra/A Sunday at Vitra" [Conversazione tra/Conversation between Rolf Felhbaum e/and Jacques Herzog con/with Stefano Boeri, Anniina Koivu, Giovanna Silva], Abitare 500, marzo/march 2010, "Architettura/Architecture" pp. 80-88 (78-93)
Anniina Koivu, "VitraHaus", Abitare 500, marzo/march 2010, "Architettura/Architecture" pp. 86-87 (78-93)
Tom Dyckhoff, "Vitra bids farewell to the age of spectacle", Architectural Review 1357, march 2010, pp. 18-19
"Weil am Rhein: Herzog & de Meuron's Vitrahaus", Architecture Today 206, march 2010, p. 16
"Herzog's house. Herzog & de Meuron", Building 8617, 19 february 2010
Liliana Albertazzi, "Herzog et de Meuron. Urbi et orbi", Intramuros 146, janvier-février/january february 2010, pp. 52-57
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CLIENT
 
 
Vitra Verwaltungs GmbH, Weil am Rhein
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Number
12 "houses"
Surface
site sq.m. 12,349
building footprint sq.m. 1,324
floor area sq.m. 4,126

facade sq.m. 7,800
Volume
m³ 22,755
Floors
5 above ground
1 underground
Lenght
maximum m. 57
Widht
maximum m. 54
Height
maximum m. 21.3
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STRUCTURES
 
 
ZPF Ingenieure AG, Basel
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN
 
 
August Künzel Landschaftsarchitekten AG, Basel
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STAFF
 
Partner
Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Wolfgang Hardt
Project architect
Guillaume Delemazure, Charlotte von Moos, Thomasine Wolfensberger
Design team
Katharina Rasshofer, Harald Schmidt, Sara Secci, Nicolas Venzin, Isabel Volkmar, Thomas Wyssen
Executive architect
Mayer Baehrle Freie Architekten BDA, Lörrach
Construction management
Krebser und Freyler Planungsbüro GmbH, Teningen
Climate control (HVAC)
Krebser und Freyler Planungsbüro GmbH, Teningen
Stahl + Weiß, Büro für Sonnen Energie, Freiburg
Hydraulic engineer
Krebser und Freyler Planungsbüro GmbH, Teningen
Mechanical engineer
Krebser und Freyler Planungsbüro GmbH, Teningen
Electrical engineer
Krebser und Freyler Planungsbüro GmbH, Teningen
Facades
Frener & Reifer Metallbau GmbH/Srl, Brixen/Bressanone
Designer
Edgar Fuchs GmbH, Kirchentellinsfurt (kitchen)
Création Baumann, Weberei und Färberei AG, Langenthal (curtain)
Physical engineering
Horstmann und Berger, Ingenieurbüro für Bauphysik, Altensteig
Acoustical consultant
Horstmann und Berger, Ingenieurbüro für Bauphysik, Altensteig
Lighting engineer
Ansorg GmbH, Mülheim/Ruhr
Interior design
Visplay International GmbH, Weil am Rhein
Graphic design
Graphic Thought Facility, London
Artistic and multimedia installations
Zihlmann electronics GmbH, Freiburg
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ANNOTATIONS
 
 


Dossiers on Campus Vitra
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Iwan Baan, Roy Bisschops
Drawings © Leon Chew
Text edited by Vitra
Courtesy of Vitra

Herzog & de Meuron VitraHaus Weil-am-Rhein Campus Vitra




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