Zaha Hadid’s Vitra Fire Station is “ready to explode into action at any moment”

by AryanArtnews
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Take a look at Zaha Hadid’s first major architectural work, the Vitra Fire Department in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and continue the series on deconstructivism.

Designed by Zaha Hadid Architects in 1993, the building was an important task in establishing a style of deconstructivism and is now functioning as an exhibition and event space.

Top and Top: Zaha Hadid designed the Vitra FireStation.Pictures of Christian Richters

The dynamic form of the station is a translation of Hadid’s early fantastic paintings, “exploding into small pieces” of a chaotic and dynamic form with a sense of movement that is characteristic of the deconstructivist style. It is drawn like this.

At the Vitra Fire Department, this sensation of movement is captured by sweeping an exposed concrete plane across the site along an informed path from the surroundings and is demonstrated in a short animation created by practice.

Vitra Fire Department
It is a dynamic form.Photo courtesy of: Thomas Dix, Vitra courtesy

The unusually narrow sloping space created where these planes collide creates a sense of “tension” in anticipation of a sudden surge in activity that can occur at any time when the station’s alarm sounds. The purpose is to create.

“This building is’frozen’-a vivid and clear expression of the tension needed to maintain an’alert’to act explosively as needed,” says Zaha Hadid Architects.

Vitra’s director, Rolf Fehlbaum, commissioned the station in 1990 after a fire that destroyed more than half of the Vitra Campus in 1981, requiring a new master plan that included space for a dedicated fire brigade.

This redevelopment made the campus home to a series of early works by some of the world’s most prominent architects, including Frank Gehry, another supporter of deconstructivism who designed the nearby Vitra Design Museum. ..

Concrete fire department
The building is on the Vitra campus.Photo by Christian Richters

The fire department is located at the southwestern end of the campus and follows the curve of two parallelogram-shaped roads organized according to the “Linear Pattern of Adjacent Fields and Landscapes”.

“Conceived as the endnote of an existing factory building … it’s designed as a connecting unit rather than an isolated object, defining rather than occupying space,” the studio explained.

Vitra Fire Department
It was Hadid’s first major building.Photo by Christian Richters

To the east is a cave-like garage space featuring walls with a completely glass-framed steel frame.

Most of the sliding walls at the exit from this garage are under a sharp geometric concrete canopy, supported by a cluster of thin metal columns that rise upwards to refer to the movement of fire trucks popping out of the building. It is in.

“The walls look like they pass each other, but the large sliding doors literally form a moving wall,” said the studio.

The two-story volume on the west side has an entrance corridor with a large ribbon window, behind which is a firefighter replacement area.

Vitra Fire Department
The space is now a gallery.Photo courtesy of: Mark Niedermann, courtesy of Vitra

Above, the break room with kitchenette has square countertops and shelves that follow the shape of the wall, looking back at the campus through another ribbon window covered with Blythe Soleil.Rather than being treated as separate rooms surrounded by doors, the interior is considered as a network of flowing spaces, the changing areas are separated by originally curved metal lockers, and the threshold is at the door. It is suggested by the narrowness of the space.

“The fire department (long, straight, narrow) appears as a layered series of sloping walls and broken walls,” practice said.

“This program resides in the space between these walls, drilling, tilting, and breaking depending on functional requirements,” he continued.

Inside Vitra FireStation by Zaha Hadid Architects
The inner wall is exposed concrete.Photo by Andreas Schwarzkopf

To maintain the clarity of this formal composition, station details are kept to a minimum, avoiding lighting fixtures, door and window frames, floor finishes, and roof edging.

Certain spaces are lined with insulation and white plaster to retain heat, but much of the interior walls are left as exposed concrete.

Fluorescent strips embedded along the ceiling and floor revisit the concept of lines across the site, giving a shining look to the concrete plane.

Even the balustrades of the stairs, which are placed in the void where the two forms intersect, are designed as four parallel railings of different heights so that the orbit with an upward angle is not broken by the landing area.

Inside Vitra FireStation by Zaha Hadid Architects
It has many angled spaces.Photo by Pjt56

“Attachments such as roof edging and cladding were avoided because they undermine the simplicity of the prism shape and the abstract quality of the architectural concept,” practice said.

The lines engraved on the pavement surrounding the building suggest a “linear pattern” that influenced the design and are intended to “chore” the various locations and routes of the fire engine.

“As you pass through the fire department space, you’ll see a big red fire truck glimpse,” practice said.

“The lines of their movement are engraved on the asphalt. Similarly, the ritual practice of firefighters is engraved on the ground.” A series of choreographic notations. “

The station was praised and greatly praised for its ability to translate what many thought Hadid’s paintings were simply “paper architecture” into constructed forms.

Vitra Fire Department Painting
Vitra Fire Station is a translation of Hadid’s early paintings.

In a 2016 interview with Dezeen’s Remembering Zaha Hadid series, Danish architect Bjarke Ingels recalled the impact of seeing the Vitra FireStation for the first time.

“She somehow found a way to physically represent the seemingly impossible perspective of the floating elements and distorted angles she captured in fantasy. [paintings]”Ingels said.

However, just a few years after the station was opened, Vitra decided to disband its own fire department, responsible for protecting the campus that was transferred to the Weil and Basel fire departments.

Vitra Fire Department Painting
Hadid’s painting shows a square shape

For deconstructivist critics, reports that firefighters found the building difficult to use served as evidence that style prioritized form over function. Today, the Vitra Design Museum continues to use space for events and small exhibitions.

Creating angular sloping walls and jagged edges using exposed concrete will be characteristic of Zaha Hadid’s early projects, including the MAXXI Museum in Rome and the Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg.

Deconstructivist series logo
Illustration by Jack Bedford

Deconstructivism is one of the most influential architectural movements of the 20th century. Our series introduces the buildings and works of key supporters such as Eisenman, Koolhaas, Gary, Hadid, Libeskind, Chumi and Prix.

Read the Deconstructivism Series ›

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