Prima by Zaha Hadid for Swarovski. The Fire Station, Vitra Campus, Germany.
Design Miami/Basel is the Global Forum for Design. As an invited guest of the week long event I have been invited to be a part of some important new exhibitions and installations by the leading designers of our generation. This morning sees the press preview for the newest addition to the Vitra Campus in Germany. An added note on my invitation to bring my passport with me as you have to cross the German boarder. You may remember me visiting the Vitra Campus this time last year which you can read about >>here<<. The Vitra Campus has become a World famous hub for contemporary architectural structures. After a major fire in 1981 the site was redeveloped into a gathering of buildings designed by the most distinguished architects in the world. Nestled in a triangle between Switzerland, Germany and France, the campus has become an attraction for visitors across the world, with thanks to their daily architecture tours around the factory buildings.
Notable designers include Nicholas Grimshaw, Alvaro Siza in 1994 and Japanese architects SANAA last year, to the Hertzog & de Meuron VitraHaus built in 2010. The bus stop was designed by Jasper Morrison (the DJ booth at their summer parties) & Conference Pavilion by Tadao Ando in 1993. My favourite building is the Vitra Design Museum, designed by Frank Gehry in 1989, it was his first building in Europe.
Zaha Hadid & Nadia Swarovski at the Prima launch (today 11.6.13) Photo credit Felix Kunze
Zaha Hadid & Nadia Swarovski at the Prima launch (today 11.6.13) Photo credit Felix Kunze The installation, Prima, which is being unveiled today is an angular piece made from five highly polished components that can be moved into different configurations. It has been installed in front of the Fire Station (Hadid’s first building complex in 1981) which no longer is in use), reflecting and honouring the design process of the building. After that major fire in 1981, Vitra decided it would be a good idea to have a fire brigade. Hadid was commissioned with designing a building for it. The structure has the effect of a frozen explosion, with a heavy amount of her trademark angular features and reflective surfaces.
Above, photo credit Helen Binet
Below, The Fire Station, built in 1981 by Zaha Hadid
Knowing that its company fire brigade could only combat a fire in its initial stages and could not replace the public fire services, Vitra decided to disband its fire brigade a few years later. The building is now used as an event space by the Vitra Design Museum.
Zaha Hadid commented on Prima: “I’m equally proud of all my projects as they each represent different times of my career and periods of research, but I have a particular affection for Vitra Fire Station as it was my first building. Rolf Fehlbaum shares my passion for architecture and was inspired by my early visualisations. He dared to engage me without seeing a prior track record and without the certainty of public success. Returning to Vitra to work with Swarovski on this installation has been a very rewarding experience.”
Rolf Fehlbaum, the Chairman of Vitra fondly remembers his decision to commission Hadid first back in the 80’s and again this year. He boasts how thrilled he is with her first spectacular building and how impressive it looks now as it did when it was first built. He praises her for her incredible sense of vision, I challenge anyone to dispute that.
Prima will be shown outside the Fire Station from 12th June to 11th August 2013.
Images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects, Camron PR & Vitra