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Designed by Antonio Citterio for Vitra
Founded 1950 (Weil am Rhein, Germany)
“We make products that avoid the superfluous and last for a very long time,” says Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum. Based in Switzerland, the company has collaborated with such design luminaries as Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Frank Gehry and Verner Panton to manufacture the pieces that define modern design.
The Fire Station. When a fire in 1981 destroyed Vitra’s production plant in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the company saw an opportunity to rebuild, but better. Their new highly designed campus would even include a station for its own volunteer-run fire brigade, and the company hired Zaha Hadid for the job. It was her first high-profile project, and its success launched her career. Completed in 1993, the Vitra Fire Station comprises a collection of cement planes and blocks that combine to form lines, points and angles. It was quickly deemed an icon of modern design, with renowned architect Philip Johnson attending the opening.
The garage sits in the center, trucks lit from below. To one side are floor-to-ceiling windows and a wall opening to the outside, and on the other, a locker room, kitchen and roof terrace. Concrete slabs float over the whole. Vitra no longer uses employee volunteers, having turned firefighting over to the pros. The Fire Station now hosts events and exhibitions of the Vitra Design Museum, while continuing to play its part in the overall design scheme of the campus, which draws fans of architecture worldwide.
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