Fire Station

Zaha Hadid, 1993

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 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.

About the architect

Zaha Hadid, born in 1950 in Baghdad, studied mathematics at the American University in Beirut and architecture at the Architectural Association in London. After completing her studies, she founded an architectural office in London in 1980 and assumed a teaching position at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. In 1982 she won the British Architectural Design Gold Medal for the renovation of a townhouse in Eaton Place, London, succeeded by a first place award for the Peak Club in Hong Kong. Her competition entry for a building on Kurfürstendamm in Berlin won another first prize in 1986, followed by exhibitions of her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York and the GA Gallery in Tokyo. The Museum of Modern Art in New York included Hadid's work in a group exhibition with Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley under the title 'Deconstructivist Architecture' in 1988. In 2004 she received the Pritzker Prize. Other honours include the Republic of France's Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, England's Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and Japan's Praemium Imperiale, as well as the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Zaha Hadid passed away in 2016.

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