Fire stations of the world: Weil-am-Rhein Vitra Fire Station, Germany
More space station than fire station, this Zaha Hadid-designed German Vitra Fire Station in Weil-am-Rhein was one of the first Hadid projects to be built, a sign of the other functional, powerful and impressive architectural spaces she would be contribute in the future. The Vitra Fire Station was built in 1993 within the Vitra furniture factory complex in order to protect all Vitra buildings. After the major fire in 1981, Vitra decided it would be a good idea to have a fire brigade. Zaha Hadid was commissioned with designing a building for it. 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. Since that time, the rooms have been used for events and exhibitions held by the Vitra Design Museum. Today, the Weil Fire Services are responsible for the Vitra Campus. Together with the Basel Fire Services, they assume the role of protecting the Vitra Campus.
The four bay fire station is the very first building complex designed by Zaha Hadid. It consists of spaces for fire engines, showers and changing rooms for the firemen as well as a conference room and a kitchenette. The sculpture-like building was cast in concrete on site. Positioned alongside the angular features of the neighbouring production facilities, it has the effect of a frozen explosion. Its lack of colour and right angles provides visitors with an unusual spatial experience.
Once expanded the framework for action by fire fighters in the area, the building was off duty and was recycled to serve as exhibition space for the permanent collection of Vitra chairs.
The fire station was located at the end of the street which begins in the Museum’s Chair Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany.
These are the concepts, in the words of the study itself, used to develop the building: “We started our project with a total study site that is implanted in the factory. Our intention was to deploy elements of the project so that would not be lost among the huge sheds of the ships that make up the factory. We also use these elements to structure the entire site, giving identity and rhythm to the main street that runs through the complex. ”
It was conceived as a longitudinal garden, as if it were the artificial extension of the linear patterns of the adjacent farmland and vineyards.
The building was not designed as an isolated object but developed as the outer edge of the garden area, defining the space rather than occupying space.