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The Vitra Campus
Architectural views
Luis Fernández-Galiano, June 27, 2016
Geodesic Dome
Geodesic Dome
 
The initial buildings constructed by Nicholas Grimshaw were in the high-tech tradition, unadorned, functional and precise elements which characterized much of British architecture. However, giving the commission for the Museum to Frank Gehry broke away from this essential line. The building constructed by the Californian – himself a chair designer – to house the company collection is characterized by its sculptural, broken forms in a shell made of white plaster and zinc plate, with an unexpected and highly complex interior full of luminous expressiveness. Opposite the gigantic polychrome tools by his friend, Claes Oldenburg – with whom he had already worked on the famous Chiat Day building in Los Angeles, whose facade incorporates the sculptor’s gigantic prisms –, Gehry’s small construction, designed without any help from the CATIA software which he would later find so useful, rose up like a playful formal and intellectual challenge. Echoes of the impression it made can be seen today in numerous works of architecture, including, of course, the most famous example, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, also built by Gehry.

Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Stelian Popa
Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Stelian Popa
 
But if the Design Museum was a stylistic shock, the buildings completed between 1993 and 1994 also had considerable repercussions. The factory hall by Álvaro Siza is a purist cube of bricks with monumental vertical cavities and a sculpted roof construction. It is totally unspectacular in comparison with the major ambitions of the overall design and, with the characteristics that appear in all his works, serves as a neutral background for the gestural work of Zaha Hadid

Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Gabriele Basilico
Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Gabriele Basilico
 
Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Stelian Popa
Vitra design museum. Frank O. Ghary_Stelian Popa
 
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