Vitra Design Museum.
What was once a charred landscape after the campus was partially destructed in a fire, has become a spectacular exhibition of modern buildings and design craftmanship.
When I first learnt about iconic Architects such as Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando in my first year of studies, I dreamt about visiting some of these buildings. Years later, I finally got to see the buildings in the flesh and experience walking through them.
The museum is located in Germany, close to Swiss and French border. We made our way to Wheil Am Rhein, from Basel, which is the closest city. It took us about an hour by tram and bus from Basel old town. The Vitra Bus stop is perfectly located across the road from the museum. The grounds are open to the public, with only certain parts not accessible to the public or visitors who did not pay for a tour.
The Vitra Design Museum is mostly visited Architects, designers, architecture lovers and design enthusiasts. The museum pays tribute to the chair, and it is home to a manufacturing factory, that produces furniture and chairs.
As we travelled a long way to see the museum, we choose take the guided architectural tour. The architectural tour was 2 hours long, but it absolutely flew by. We spent about 5 hours at the museum grounds.
We got to see the following with this tour:
Zaha Hadid’s Fire Station, her first building. This unique approach to a fire station building, is possibly the most famous fire station in the world.
The Conference Pavillion designed by the japanese architect, Todao Ando. Details such as narrower doors are there to encourage reflective moments ‘alone’ when walking from communal space.
Warehouse/factory building designed by Sanaa. The building is known as a ‘curtain’ as the roof and structure behind is not visible when viewing from the outside. We were allowed to view the production area from a small area at the entrance only, as it is a working factory.
Schaudepot exhibition area designed by Herzog & de Meuron. This building with textured bricks, looks like an oversized house.
What struck me about all of these buildings, was that the design concept had been carried through in the smallest of details. I started off thinking that I was going to enjoy seeing Zaha Hadid’s fire station the most, but the simplicity of Tadao Ando’s conference pavilion really stood out for me and walking through the pavillion envoked a state of serenity in me.
Buildings we viewed externally only and not included in the tour:
Factory buildings by Nicolas Grimshaw and Álvaro Siza.
I highly recommend the architectural tour as you get a glimpse into these great minds when walking through the buildings and experiencing the spaces how the designers intended you to. In additional to the buildings, there is a viewing tower that offers views over the grounds with a slide to get back down.
Not included in the tour but accessible to the public:
Design museum designed by Frank Gehry – There was an exhibition of housing on when we visited.
VitraHaus, a furniture showroom, designed by Herzog & de Meuron. I found this to be a fun, playful space with different exhibitions. The Alice and Wonderland exhibition was my favourite. The views of the mountains and surrounding area from these stacked ‘houses’ are absolutely breathe taking. We had drinks and cake at the café, located at ground level of VitraHaus. They served some of the best German cakes in the area.
With that ticked off my list, off to the Black forest we go.