day 312_may 23, 2009

A day trip to Weil am Rhein, Germany, to visit the Vitra Design Museum.  It is only about 15 minutes from Basel, CH.  (We brought along our passports and residency papers, just in case, but didn’t need them)  On the way there we took the commuter train to the platform and from that point it was a long walk to the museum.  It was a very hot day, which contributed to the unpleasantness but also the town of Weil am Rhein isn’t that sweet.  Worth skipping.

We had our expectations set way too high for the Vitra Museum.  Part of the problem was we still had fresh in our minds our visit to Foundation Beyeler which was such a great experience.  I think if we were to have told ourselves that we were visiting a factory that happened to have a museum then it would have been fine.  Because that’s what the Vitra is.  Lots of high fences and huge expanses of grass with very few trees and no place to sit outside and enjoy the afternoon.  The Vitra, similar to Columbus, Indiana, is proud to boast the star-chitec designed buildings on their ‘campus’. Although, they would be wise to consider investing in a landscape star-chitect.

If you take the tour then most of the buildings are available to see.  Otherwise, you are confined to the Frank Gehry Museum and the Tadao Ando Conference Pavilion.  Walking down the highway to the Vitra, off in the distance, the Gehry building is quite prominent.  It is the type of building that you either love it or hate it, not much middle ground.  Once inside it isn’t so bad.  The exhibit space and cafè are filled with natural light and the procession through the gallery leads up ramps and spiral stairs which makes the experience pleasant.  The current exhibit titled ‘Antibodies’, which was fantastic, featured the works of Fernando & Humberto Campana from 1989-2009.  Very textural and organic designs of chairs, screens, lighting and sculptures using recycled, found and repetitive materials.

The Ando project is very simple and elegant. It totally turns its back on the Gehry project. It is a typical Ando project in the sense that it is a beautiful, concrete and glass building. You are forced to walk along two perpendicular legs of a long, tall concrete wall which obscures your vision from any other building project on the ‘campus,’ thus forcing the Gehry image out of your mind in order to focus on serenity of this destination. Unfortunately, once inside, there are a few windows which allows the Gehry building back into your consciousness.

There are two projects at the Vitra that are under construction right now.  The pictures below are of the Herzog & de Meuron building and the other project slated for opening in 2010 is by SANAA.

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