herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior

Chastity Fabry

in january 2004, vitra launched its home collection, which includes design classics as well as re-editions and products by contemporary designers. it was created in order to target individual customers with an interest in design. as there was no interior space available for the presentation of the home collection on the vitra campus in weil am rhein, between the border of switzerland and germany, the company commissioned the basel-based architects herzog & de meuron in 2006 to design the ‘vitrahaus’. it has been 16 years since the last building – the vitra design museum – by architect frank gehry was built on the vitra campus. now, on time and on budget, the ‘vitrahaus’ has opened, becoming the newest addition to the site at weil am rhein.

 

the concept of the ‘vitrahaus’ connects two themes which are occurring in the architectural practice of herzog & de meuron: the theme of the archetypal house and that of stacked volumes. the five-storey structure is comprised of 12 ‘houses’ – five houses are set at the base in which seven other houses are stacked upon one another. each of the structural volumes appear as if they have been shaped by an extrusion press and are cantilevered up to 15 meters in some places. the floor slabs intersect the underlying gables, resulting in a three-dimensional assemblage or ‘pile of houses’.

the charcoal color of the exterior stucco unifies the building
image © designboom

 

 

 

the ‘vitrahaus’ has a daytime view of the surrounding landscape, while in the evening  the perspective is reversed. during the day, one gazes out of the house, and when darkness falls, the ‘vitrahaus’ interior glows, the rooms open up and the physical structure of the house seems to dissipate. the glazed gable ends turn into display cases that shine across the vitra campus and the surrounding countryside.

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior

 

 

the maximum dimensions of the structure are: 57 metres in length, 54 metres in width and 21.3 metres in height, rising above the other buildings on the vitra campus. the design intention was not to create a horizontal building, but a vertically oriented structure, which provides an overview of the surrounding landscape and the vitra factory premises.

 

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior

image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
the vitrine – an exhibition space for the chair collection of the vitra design museum
image © designboom

 

 

 

the volume which houses the vitrine – an exhibition space for the chair collection of the vitra design museum – does not have typical shape of a house. instead, herzog & de meuron use the vitrine to express their ‘mocking’ response to the static building. it appears as if it is being pushed down by the heavy load of houses from above.

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior

in some places the houses are cantilevered by up to 15 m
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

 

 

 

the courtyard was one of the first things the architects thought about when they started the project. like a small vertically layered city, the ‘vitrahaus’ functions as an entryway to the campus, although not really an entrance as you are already in the building before entering it. wooden plank floors made from the local larch wood, define the open area in which the five base houses are grouped. these spaces function as: a conference area, an exhibition space for the chair collection of the vitra design museum (the vitrine), along with a conglomerate which contains the vitra design museum shop, lobby with a reception area, cloakroom and café with an outdoor terrace for summer use.

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
the vitra design museum shop
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
the vitrine has exterior benches, made also in larchwood which span the length of its exterior
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
the ‘entrance’ into the building
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
part of the design was that water pipes run out of the plaster rather than along the building
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
english translation: ‘the vitra house is dedicated erika fehlbaum’ mother of rolf fehlbaum, chairman of vitra’s board of directors
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
a worm’s eye view of the stacked volumes intersecting one another
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
photo by leon chew
image © vitra

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus
architecture by herzog & de meuron
photo by iwan baan
image © vitra

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus
architecture by herzog & de meuron
photo by iwan baan
image © vitra

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus model
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus model
image © designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus model
image © designboom

 

 


jacques herzog discusses the concept behind the ‘vitrahaus’
video by designboom

herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
architects pierre de meuron & jacques herzog
portrait © designboom

 

header image herzog and de meuron: vitrahaus exterior
vitrahaus –architecture by herzog & de meuron
image © vitra

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