Architecture Interests

Vitra Campus – Weil am Rhein

Why visit Weil am Rhein? …. Vitra

Weil am Rhein is a located in Germany but boards onto both Switzerland and France and is about 20 minute drive from Basel, Switzerland.

As an architecture groupie you may be wondering why I would feature such a small and obscure town.  Well Weil am Rhein is home to the Vitra Campus which is a mecca for any modern architectural enthusiast.

Vitra is a furniture company founded in Weil am Rhein, Germany in 1950 by Willi Fehlbaum.  Specializing in the production and retail of furniture originally designed by many internationally celebrated designers.  Priding themselves on creating beautiful well-design and well-made furniture.  Although Vitra is company famous for reproducing furniture designed by many well named architects they have also gained a reputation for commissioning celebrated architects to manufacture, house and exhibit their products.

In 1981 a large fire destroyed most of Vitra Campus who were forced to rebuild and continue to expand.  Nicholas Grimshaw was the first to begin the rebuild and Herzog and de Mueron has been the most recent project, completed in 2010, currently a new Factory Building by Kazuyo Sejima / SANAA is scheduled for completion in 2012.  The Vitra Campus is a collection of contemporary capital ‘A’ architecture.

The Vitra Design Museum by Frank Gehry is an exhibition of the design and architecture of Vitra.

Visit architecturegroupie.com/weil-am-rhein for a directory of the Vitra contemporary architecture.

Vitra Campus

When visiting the Vitra Campus be sure to take a guided architectural tour of the campus as well as a guided tour of the exhibition.

For the tour schedule visit www.vitra.com/en-us/campus/visit .

In addition the new workshop at the center of the Lounge Chair Atelier holds live demonstrations of the production of the famous Lounge Chair by Ray and Charles Eames check out this video demonstration

 

Vitra Miniatures Collection

Besides the modern designed life-size furniture, Vitra also manufactures The Miniatures Collection which is collection of 80 small-scale furniture pieces.  The pieces are considered to be the most influential in design from 1850 to the present day.  Model builders measure the historical original in the museum collection and then scale it down to one sixth of the original size, compile technical documentation and replicated each with impressive precision.  The Vitra Miniatures Collection include The Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe, the Tulip Chair by Saarinen, the Barrel Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright and of course a series of furniture pieces by  Ray and Charles Eames to name a few.

Here is the full Vitra Miniatures Collection

These miniatures can be delivered directly to your home at  Vitra Miniatures at Amazon or click the image below to order.

   



     

If you have been to the Vitra Campus – share your experience with us.


 

architectural travel entry: five

The most interesting event upon entering the Church is realizing the doorway is at the side of the altar. There are references to what direction is considered to be the front. The rectangular space is overwhelming to enter, it rises at least two storeys in height and the walls are made of raw concrete block. Everything within this space is simple there are no distractions and no ornamentation.

The windows behind the choir stalls are cut into the walls on a steep angle and the frame is painted bright yellow, green, and red, which releasing soothing light so there is no view of the exterior, we are forced to focus on what is happening inside.

In the middle of the room resides a large piece of polished sheet metal, it is hung from a single wire attached at the ceiling 25 feet or so above us. The metal is attached at its center and the edges bow to the ground just hovering above the floor.  A short wood bat is nearby and when the metal is struck the entire room echoes, the sounds are reminiscent of the monks chanting.

The sound penetrates the space and brings us all to silence.

La Tourette by Le Corbusier, France

MUST SEE architecture movies

Sometimes a documentary is just easier and a bit more fun to learn about architecture than to read all these books.

13 must see architecture documentaries:

(in no particular order)

1.  Antonio Gaudi (The Criterion Collection)(1984)

In this documentary Teshigahara immortalize Antonio Gaudí taking the audience on a trip of Gaudí’s amazing architecture, such as his large and still-unfinished project Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain. The photographic work as strong and delicate.
 

2.  Regular or Super – Views on Mies van der Rohe(2005)

REGULAR OR SUPER is a review of Mies van der Rhoe’s entire body of work, showcasing more than 70 projects which reflect his motto: “less is more.”  This is an informative introduction to the work of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.
 

3.  Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman(2010)

Although this is not a movie about a specific architect it is a great movie for those interested in architectural photography.  VISUAL ACOUSTICS celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream. Capturing the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry to name a few.
 

4.  Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack (2005)

This film is a conversation between Frank Gehry and Sidney Pollack who discuss Gehry’s career and the process of making his architecture.  They visit four projects in this film: the Vitra Museum in Germany, Maggie’s Centre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Disney Concert Hall in L.A.
 

5.  My Architect (2003)

The world-famous architect Louis Kahn had two illegitimate children, this movie is one son’s exploration of his father’s architecture while meeting people who worked and knew him.  Exeter Library, Salk Institute, and Bangladeshi Capitol Building are visited in this documentary and much is revealed about the life and death of Kahn.

6.  Eames: The Architect and the Painter

A movie about America’s most influential and important industrial designers Charles and Ray Eames.  Interviews with friends, colleague, and experts capture the personal story of Charles and Ray giving context to their projects.
 

7.  Rem Koolhaas: Kind of Architect

Filmed by Markus Heidingsfelder and Min Tesch, this documentary features interviews from other architects and friends about Koolhaas, offering a peek into his process and his influence in architecture. 
(You can watch it here: www.youtube.com/)
 

8.  Philip Johnson: Diary of An Eccentric Architect (1996)

Philip Johnson has always been at the forefront of stylistic change. Featuring the house he designed and lives in, his famous “Glass House” which has no walls so the landscape becomes the wallpaper. This movie is what he refers to as his “diary” and insightful look into the life of Johnson. 
 

9.  The Alchemy of Building

This film explores the way Herzog and de Meuron explore various materials, how their strengths and weaknesses compliment each other and how they collaborate with others, giving the audience insight into how they develop their ground-breaking architecture.

10.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater Special Edition

This is a two disc collection including the fascinating story of how Fallingwater came to be as well as interviews with Lynda Waggoner, the director of Fallingwater, and Richard Cleary, an architectural historian.  The second disc includes an interactive visual tour of Fallingwater, and copies of original plans, presentation drawings, and photos.
 

11.  First Person Singular: I.M. Pei

I.M. Pei speaks about his famous projects along with experts who comment on the impact and importance of these projects.  Featured projects include the Louvre in Paris, the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas.
(see a trailer:  First Person Singular; IM Pei)
 

12.  How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?

How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster? follows Norman Foster’s unending quest to improve the quality of life through design. By investigating his origins to how his dreams and influences inspired the design of emblematic projects such as the world’s largest building to its tallest bridge, Foster offers some striking solutions to humanity’s increasing demand on urban centers. 
(You can watch it here:  www.youtube.com)

13.  Architectures (Vol. 1-5) – 5-DVD Box Set ( Baukunst )

This five volume collection includes: ‘The Dessau Bauhaus by Walter Gropius’, ‘The Siza School’, ‘Family Lodgings in Guise’, ‘Nemausus 1’, ‘The Georges Pompidou Centre’, ‘The Vienna Savings Bank’, ‘The Johnson Building By Frank Lloyd Wright’, ‘The Galleria Umberto I’, ‘Lyon Satolas TGV Station By Santiago Calatrava’, ‘The Stone Thermal Baths By Peter Zumthor’, ‘The Paris Fine Arts School By Felix Duban’, ‘The Jewish Museum Berlin By Daniel Libeskind’, ‘The Garnier Opera By Charles Garnier’, ‘The Convent of La Tourette By Le Courbusier’, ‘The Casa Mila By Antoni Gaudi’, ‘The Auditorium Building in Chicago By Louis Harris Sullivan’, ‘The Municipal Centre of Saynatsalo By Alvaar Alto’, ‘Royal Saltworks of Arc-et-Senans By Claude Nicolas Ledoux’, ‘La Maison de Verre By Pierre Chareau’, ‘The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao By Frank Gehry’, ‘Jean Prouve’s House’, ‘Multimedia Library of Sendai By Toyo Ito’, ‘The Abbey Church of Sainte Foy at Conques’, ‘The Alhambra, Granada’, ‘The House of Sugimoto, Kyoto’, ‘The Reception and Congress Building in Rome By Adalberto Libera’, ‘The Yoyogi Olympic Gymnasiums By Kenzo Tange’, ‘The Villa Barbaro (Villa di Maser) By Andrea Palladio’ and ‘Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg By Zaha Hadid’.  This will keep any architecture groupie occupied for a while – a great gift. 
 
 A Guide to Modern Architecture

VISIT architectureGROUPIE.com for a travel guide to modern architecture

 

Why do Architects wear black?

When I mentioned this topic to my colleagues, they laughed, it is amusing because it’s a stereotype and generalization that in many ways is true. This isn’t regional, A LOT of architects around the world wear black almost exclusively.  Does this ‘dress code’ hold any insight into the community of architects and their culture?

So what is black:  most obviously it is dark and mysterious, it is the absence of light.  In fashion black is stylish, sophisticated and pure, it is classic but trendy, it is conservative or sexy.  The color of authority and power however priests wear black to signify submission to God.   So Black is filled with contradiction?

perhaps…

Will clients anticipate that an architect in black is more artistic and will create more unique architecture, reminiscent of tormented artists like Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock.

  

Spatially black is the void; it is the silhouette and the shadow.  Architects are forever fascinated with and shaping and creating of voids and space.

so why not lime green, why black?

Well maybe it isn’t really about the black but more about a dress code or uniform.  A dress code is defined as a written or unwritten rule regarding clothing which is worn by members of an organization while participating in that organizations activity….hmmm.

So who are some of the culprits of this unwritten dress code…

ricardo scofidio & liz diller   Zaha Hadid

In black Scofidio and Diller are torn and perplexed (left)
Zaha Hadid is confident and powerful in black (right)
 
 

daniel libeskind    peter zumthor

In black Libeskind is surpisiingly happy (for an architect) (left)
Zumthor is wise and all-knowing in black (right)

and sometimes Architects throw in some white just to mess with us…

Herzog and de Meuron realizing they are over budget (just joking)

Do you have any thoughts on why architects wear black?

FEATURE PRODUCT:  Why Do Architects Wear Black?

I can across this book when researching this post, it is a very funny gift for any architect.

architectural travel entry: one

We entered the court through the arch, a drummer was playing, the beat echoed, the coolness of the air and the soft misty drops of rain added to the intrigue of this place. It was dim in the court and as I viewed the light and shadow playing on the stone I saw in the distance the light glowing from the pyramid.

It was quiet, few people were there just shadows and silhouettes in the distance.  The sound of the drums had dissipated as we passed through the second arch.  The fountains were off and the romantic sounds from a violinist was faintly coming to life as I looked at the black pools of still water reflecting the beautiful glow of the glass pyramid.  With just enough light to make out the opposing foreground and background of new and old it was a surreal and for a moment nothing else existed but myself and this place.

Architect Quotes

We can learn a lot from the acclaimed architects.

Let’s see what they have to teach us:

Control is the wrong word. The practice is very much about sharing, and, in any creative practice, some individuals, whether partners or directors, are much closer to certain projects than I could ever be.     Norman Foster

 

Architecture is the art of how to waste space.     Philip Johnson

I try to give people a different way of looking at their surroundings. That’s art to me.     Maya Lin

Each new situation requires a new architecture.     Jean Nouvel

Less is a bore.     Robert Venturi

My buildings don’t speak in words but by means of their own spaciousness.     Thom Mayne

Cities are the greatest creations of humanity.     Daniel Libeskind

Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love.     Louis Kahn

But now sustainability is such a political category that it’s getting more and more difficult to think about it in a serious way. Sustainability has become an ornament.     Rem Koolhaas

Modernism released us from the constraints of everything that had gone before with a euphoric sense of freedom.     Arthur Erickson

If your contribution has been vital there will always be somebody to pick up where you left off, and that will be your claim to immortality.     Walter Gropius

Our time is so specialised that we have people who know more and more or less and less.    Alvar Aalto

Form follows function.     Louis Sullivan

God is in the details.      Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

A doctor can bury his mistakes but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.     Frank Lloyd Wright

All quotes are courtesy of Brainy Quotes.

What is your favourite Quote?

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