Vitra Fire Station

Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany, Zaha Hadid Architects
Project year: 1994
Address: Müllheimer Str. 56, WEIL AM RHEIN, Germany
Latitude/Longitude: 47.600358,7.614633


A study of the overall factory site was the initiation of this design. Placing the elements of the commission in such a way that they would not be lost between the enormous factory sheds was the intention of the architect. These elements were also used to structure the whole site, giving identity and rhythm to the main street running through the complex. This street stretches from the chair museum to the other end of the factory site, where the fire station is now located. A linear landscaped zone is what the street was envisaged, almost as if it were the artificial extension of the linear patterns of the adjacent agricultural fields and vineyards. Thus, rather than designing the building as an isolated object, it was developed as the outer edge of the landscaped zone: defining space rather than occupying space. The programme was stretched into a long, narrow building alongside the street in order to achieve this, which marks the edge of the factory site. It also functions as a screening device against the bordering buildings.

The space-defining and screening functions of the building were the point of departure for the development of the architectural concept: a linear, layered series of walls. The spaces between these walls are inhabited by the programme, and puncture, tilt and break according to functional requirements. The building is hermetic from a frontal reading, revealing the interiors only from a perpendicular viewpoint.