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Beautiful, but expensive Basel

Basel is among the oldest cities of Europe, and architecturally speaking, among the most beautiful. Its founding antedates the beginning of the common era (CE), and its history from the Roman through the medieval to the modern period is as chequered as any city’s could be. It is a relatively small city, with just over 200 000 inhabitants, not counting the thousands of tourists that fill its hotels and guesthouses at just about any time of the year. Take now, for instance. It is very cold in Basel at present — ranging between -5 and 3 degrees Centigrade — and yet the streets are teeming with visitors to this city straddling three countries, namely Switzerland, Germany and France

One of the attractions this time of year is undoubtedly the Weihnachtsmarkt, or Christmas Market, with colourful stalls popping up in designated areas all over town, and offering anything from Gluhwein and traditional foods to the most intricate little figurines, jewellery and locally manufactured clothes. This is not the reason for our visit to Basel, though. I will be presenting a paper at a conference in Freiburg, Germany, which is about half an hour from here, next week, but we decided to spend a week in Basel studying the architecture in and around the city before travelling to Freiburg. In passing I should note that South Africans are at a distinct disadvantage here — not only is Switzerland (where the old city is situated) the most expensive European city at present, but our unrealistically weak rand makes it impossible to enjoy everything the city offers. A Cappucino costs the equivalent, in Swiss Franks, of R72 or so, and a decent meal will set you back at least R300 per person, which is why we chose to stay in an apartment, and buy food at a supermarket to prepare ourselves.

Just to give one an idea of the importance attached to architecture here, consider the fact that virtually every building on the campus belonging to the pharmaceutical company Novartis was designed by a different architect among the leading ones in the world. Our favourite is the highly abstract, yet intriguingly sculptural, multi-dimensional architectural creation by Frank Gehry. Speaking of whom — we took the bus just across the border to the German campus of the world-renowned design company Vitra, whose campus is even more beautiful than that of Novartis, boasting Frank Gehry’s first building outside the United States, Zaha Hadid’s first-ever commissioned building, and an early architectural marvel by that Japanese master of space and silence, Tadao Ando. It was difficult deciding which of these was the most entrancing modulation of space, but if I were really pressed, I would probably go for the one by Tadao Ando, that is, if I did not choose an altogether different design, to wit, Vitra House.

The Vitra website is worth a visit, to see what I mean by extolling the architectural virtues of these astonishing buildings. To enter Tadao Ando’s conference centre, one has to walk along a narrow path, which forces you to go in single file, entering the narrow door one after the other — a spatial strategy that already creates the circumstances for a meditative state of mind, even before you enter the interior spaces that are peculiarly suited for meditation. The most striking of these is “the room of silence”, which faces the road, and yet allows no sound of motor cars to intrude, owing to double glazing of the tall windows. Outside, too, Ando has insulated the room from all possible distractions by using a curtain wall to limit one’s view to lawn and trees, in this way creating a dialogue between the peaceful interior, with its wood panelling, and the exterior, which might as well be in a serene countryside.

Zaha Hadid’s fire station — which is no longer used as such, but serves as an exhibition space instead — is a stunning example of deconstructive architecture. Instead of extolling the traditional Vitruvian architectural virtues, it plays mischievously with the viewer’s expectations of symmetry, straight lines, horizontality and verticality. Instead, what may appear to be a passage of the usual kind, turns out to be curved, what may seem to be diagonal, turns out to be horizontal or vertical, and even the toilet doors give the impression of leaning back. Viennese artist-architect Hundertwasser, who wrote the famous manifesto against straight lines, would love this building.

But the piece de resistance of the Vitra campus, despite the stunning complexity of Gehry’s design museum and the tranquillity of Ando’s meditation centre, is Herzog and de Meuron’s Vitra House — an impossible-seeming accumulation of “houses”, mimicking the local domestic architectural style, piled on top of one another in ostensibly random fashion, until one enters this five-level marvel of design. With entire facades consisting of glass, and overlooking a different part of the town, or the forested hill, in each case, and every floor displaying the wide variety of Vitra furniture designs, walking up the stairs and exploring each large, beautifully furnished level becomes an adventure yielding surprises around every turn.

Basel is not only known for straddling three countries across the Rhine, or for its architecture (and for the Tinguely Fountain and Museum, or the fact that Nietzsche was appointed Professor of Philology at the University of Basel at the youthful age of 23), however; it is perhaps primarily linked to the 14th century artistic creation of the Totentanz, or Dance of Death, which was recently resurrected by film director Peter Greenaway (of Prospero’s Books and The Belly of an Architect fame), in the form of a multimedia film that is shown at various locations in the city night and day. By “shown” I don’t mean in theatres; everywhere there are constructions resembling miniature stages, with a screen protected from rain and snow by a little roof, where the 21st-century counterpart of the famous wall-paintings from the 15th century plays itself out to spellbound spectators throughout the day and evening.

The origin and meaning of the series of paintings are attributed to an intense awareness of human mortality in the wake of the Black Death, which reduced Europe’s population by a third. Each painting represented a person from a different station in society — from a nun and a cardinal through a duchess and farmer to a cook and a youth — and everywhere the theme (reiterated in the accompanying verse) is the same: no matter how important, or wealthy, or young, or strong you are, death comes to everyone in the end. In 1805, incomprehensibly, the wall bearing the moralistic paintings was torn down, but fortunately some prescient members of the Basel community managed to rescue some, though not all, of the paintings for posterity. They can be seen in the Basel Historical Museum, and comparing them with Greenaway’s contemporary (and timely) interpretation is understandably fascinating.

With the added benefit of cinema technology, and augmenting this with other visual and graphic media, Greenaway has managed to confront present-day viewers anew with the universal truth of the inescapability of death, even at a time when the likes of Ray Kurzweil believe that it is a matter of mere decades before the advent of the “Singularity” — something anticipated with quasi-rligious zeal — when computers, robots and humans will supposedly merge to form something (a being of some sort, but at any rate one no longer human) that would approximate, if not actualise, immortality. I, for one, am sceptical of any such hubristic dreams — as we all know, even machines can be destroyed, or become obsolete.


  • As an undergraduate student, Bert Olivier discovered Philosophy more or less by accident, but has never regretted it. Because Bert knew very little, Philosophy turned out to be right up his alley, as it were, because of Socrates's teaching, that the only thing we know with certainty, is how little we know. Armed with this 'docta ignorantia', Bert set out to teach students the value of questioning, and even found out that one could write cogently about it, which he did during the 1980s and '90s on a variety of subjects, including an opposition to apartheid. In addition to Philosophy, he has been teaching and writing on his other great loves, namely, nature, culture, the arts, architecture and literature. In the face of the many irrational actions on the part of people, and wanting to understand these, later on he branched out into Psychoanalysis and Social Theory as well, and because Philosophy cultivates in one a strong sense of justice, he has more recently been harnessing what little knowledge he has in intellectual opposition to the injustices brought about by the dominant economic system today, to wit, neoliberal capitalism. His motto is taken from Immanuel Kant's work: 'Sapere aude!' ('Dare to think for yourself!') In 2012 Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University conferred a Distinguished Professorship on him. Bert is attached to the University of the Free State as Honorary Professor of Philosophy.


  1. Anke Anke 2 December 2013

    I would like to clarify, that VItra is not in Basel but in Weil am Rhein, a less picturesque town in the tri-border region of Germany, Switzerland and France. Outsiders tend to lose track of the course of the borders in and around Basel.

  2. Paul S Paul S 2 December 2013

    Sadly, and if the long-run trend dictates, the reality of the weak SA rondt is shortly going to make the enjoyment of just about any first world country the preserve of the very wealthy only.

  3. Maria Maria 4 December 2013

    Paul, you are so right, and I feel so sorry for my South African friends in this position. The South African economy merits better than that, but the mismanagement of the country by your government is really to blame.

  4. G G 20 February 2014

    Following a discussion in your lecture regarding the “Arché” and “Techné” which make up the word and discourse which we call Architecture, I enjoy your description of Ando’s work and the qualities of tranquility and the meditative state of mind it promotes. These qualities clearly represent the immutable nature of the “Arché” within his work, but they are so much more powerful within the greater composition especially as, through some familiarity with his work, I am aware of the equally important aspect of “Techné”, expressed by the way in which he pushes the boundaries with regard to the techniques used in working with the chosen materials, and the fine tolerances to which they are crafted, but still, all for the ultimate purpose of producing a space of true serenity and where one can experience an higher state of being.
    The combination of these qualities is a rarity in our global culture of quantitative measurement of success and the populist obsession with the “cult of the compelling object” as Peter Buchanan calls it.

  5. Brian Saunders Brian Saunders 20 February 2014

    To me, Tadao Ando’s Conference Pavilion seems the most subtle and meaningful of the buildings on the Vitra Campus. As I haven’t experienced them myself, it is difficult to judge these buildings from a cursory search on the Vitra website and on Google Earth, but Ando’s contribution seems to embrace the features of the site (trees, views etc.) in a more physical, but restrained way than the other buildings, particularly those by Frank Gehry and Herzog and De Meuron, which seem to have been conceived as self-conscious ‘objects’ set in a park-like landscape. Ando’s Conference Pavilion is engaged in a dialogue with its surroundings and yet remains introverted and enigmatic when viewed from the outside. He has managed to achieve this profound relationship to the context without resorting to formal gymnastics, which I think is an approach to architecture that I would like to see become more prevalent globally.
    But, on the other hand, I believe the architectural folly has its place and there is perhaps no better place than on the private estate of a wealthy furniture and design company such as Vitra.

  6. Neil Smith Neil Smith 20 February 2014

    Philosophy Assignment One – Neil Smith s209062281 16/02/2014
    On ‘being and becoming’ – an architectural response to the blog titled ‘Beautiful but expensive Basel’ by Bert Olivier

    A continuous fascination with the concepts of being and becoming, truth and appearance, as well as essence and existence have been shared by the ‘thoughtful’ in possibly all areas of study, not only by the philosophical or architectural among us but for the assignment below an architecturally focused response has been called for.
    An analysis of the two parts which constitute the very word architecture – namely the greek words arche and teche – can be traced back or attributed to these very concepts of being and becoming. Arche drawing parallels with being and teche drawing parallels with becoming.
    It would not be a stretch to say that the creation of a true architectural work should be a sum of its (linguistic) parts, namely of both being and becoming. Although works may differ in the proportions of the named concepts both between the works of differing creators and the works done under the mind of a single creator they can non-the-less be categorized.
    As is human nature one would like to and is able (in varying degrees of accuracy) to categorize works by architects into either the group of being, or the group of becoming. The former intrinsically more concerned with or making one more aware of the untouchable essence…

  7. Evert J. Esterhuizen Evert J. Esterhuizen 20 February 2014

    Striated space and smooth space… being and becoming…. order and disorder…

    With regard to a single building on the Vitra campus: does Vitra House by Hertzog & DeMeuron speak of striated or smooth space?

    I suppose, a typical layman in RSA could think that it is an example of smooth space, being a conglommerate of disorderly tubes shaped to the archetypal ‘house.’ A series of objects sitting in a condition of tension, sort of waiting to expand, being caught in a moment of…process… become. Perhaps…entirely pick-up-stick-random. For a minute one could think….’okay, next step in the sequence?’

    But, and I really have too little info about the seed idea, the process and the design developement to truly say anything about it, but being set in such a historically rich environment (judging purely on what is said in the article), an environment rich in layers of inferences, one can imagine that the company (being local) may have felt the need to establish itself as part of the existing, to establish its place of being. (at least, it sounds like that w.r.t the shape of the tubes), hence the directional lines; the deconstruction of these various layers and the orientation of these tubes being the final result.

    But as I say, I have too little knowledge and may have been something entirely different.

  8. Brigitta Albrecht Brigitta Albrecht 20 February 2014

    The Vitra Campus is unashamedly a collection of artistic artefacts that themselves pose as sculptural objects to be viewed on the backdrop of the Weil am Hein environment, rather than being parts to a carefully constructed hetrogenous urban imperative, sensitive to the natural landscape, as suggested. A reason for this may have been the employment of independant reknown architects who practice using distinct stylistic traits, that perhaps route the buildings in time, but not necessarily in this place, as they seem to lack a dialogue shared between themselves and with the context. However, it is this very proximity of a number of esteemed Architects’ work that heightens the Campus as a destination for visitors. Where else can one find so many of the “greats” displayed in such an exhibition with one another? It is a fascinating contradiction.

  9. Jacques du Plooy Jacques du Plooy 21 February 2014

    I as suppose that any form of intervention is an attempt at creating striated spaces (becoming) out of what appears to be smooth spaces (being). The design of the Vitra Haus is a good example of such an intervention where Herzog & de Meuron emphasized the existing smooth spaces (archné / being) of the Weil am Hein environment by the careful and strategic piling of the houses upon each other, thus an action of creating striated spaces (techné / becoming). Without the context the positioning of the houses would lose most of its meaning, order and hierarchy, and consequently the intervention of becoming would lose most of its striated space and gain a tad smooth space. This reinforces the principle that being and becoming always exists co dependently.

    Perhaps it can also be argued that even though the individual artistic artefacts of the Vitra Campus appears as compositions of predominantly striated space, that their lack of dialogue shared between themselves causes the total composition to become somewhat nomadic, and hence a composition with a predominantly smooth space.

    Only Vitra can prevent forest fires. If a missed the line of reasoning, I did not mean anything I wrote.

  10. Clarissa-Marí Rabie Clarissa-Marí Rabie 24 February 2014

    Architecture consists of different type of spaces. Striated space is space of being, immutable and has hierarchy. Smooth space is space of becoming and mutable. It is nomadic and the process start at a point and change happen, transformation of material.

    Tadao Ando’s conference center, ‘the room of silence ’give clues of space as ‘being’, striated space. One is forced to walk in a single file and control what you see and experience. Therefore it does not change and the experience of the space stays solid. Through the control measures of sound insulation, double glazed windows, limiting the view and narrow entrance speaks about how Ando intended the visitor to experience space in a certain way which does not change, being solid.
    Zaha Hadid on the other hand, is an example of deconstructive architecture undermines all hierarchy and is in a fluid stage. The experience is ever-changing, nomadic and of smooth space which is space of ‘becoming’. Hadid keeps the visitors’ attention through mischievous fascination by changing the perception of elements within the building as you move through space.

    Through different design intentions it is clear that you can either control the experience within space or could be entirety up to the visitor to form his/her own experience and that could be different from individual to individual.

  11. Simtembile Nteleza Simtembile Nteleza 25 February 2014

    The building that holds the most significance on the Vitra Campus would be Hertzog and de Moron Vitra Huis.The building questions all notions of finite space in that no one space starts or end. You get a feeling of always being drawn to the adjacent room as you move through the building and when you reach the last possible space, a curtain wall connects you back with the external environment.

    The formal expression questions notion of house based on ideas influenced by modern technical material abilities to produce a shape which seems to be evolving in nature never in one single state of being. The walls misrepresent their purpose and function from being supports to benches, never one thing in particular.

    The Vitra huis becomes a representation of an intangible idea such as creativity which one is introduced to before entering the building but remains surprised when he interact with creativity inside the building. Kind of like watching previews and watching the movie.

    The building sets it priorities on movement and thus the idea of constantly changing, or in our terms, becoming. Further more the celebrating of occassions and experience as you move through the building and even though the spaces seem the same, no one space has the same feeling.

    In conclusion the Vitra huis have been drawn more to the idea of constantly changing or becoming something, representing the technological changes which have over the years developed different chair designs on Basel

  12. Jama Mcoteli Jama Mcoteli 25 February 2014

    The vitra campus is a celebration of architecture,an architectural expo if you like,on the one hand and on the other,an ensemble of sculptures and objects in space.
    What I find most compelling about the buildings is the architects’ intepretations of the overall context. Each building contributes to the spatial dialogue that they create.Tadao Ando’s building for example is a juxtaposition of the natural (the immutable) and the man-made (the mutable) or that which is ‘becoming’ in its conception of space and rectilinear form.Frank Gehry’s buildings are more sculptures or ojects in space with flowing lines and forms that allude to the natural in a way because curvs and curvature are associated with the natural,yet they are man-made structures.Zaha Hadid’s building is a deconstructivist work with highly rectilinear and shardy forms that are parts to the whole.
    To conclude,one may view the campus site as an open space (smooth space) where various buildings were erected that introduced a spatial dialogue and some measure of order,giving the campus a quality of striated space and spatial integrity.This further defines movement patterns,in between space and spatial definition by the buildings themselves without employing any hierarchical defices (destination spaces,symmetry,etc).Instead each building exists as its own edifis that is part of the whole and sets up its own conditions of approach,movement,hierarchy,symmetry,etc,determining one’s experience of the building.

  13. Maré Moore Maré Moore 25 February 2014

    When considering the Techné aspects of the architecture found on the Vitra campus it is clear how buildings like that of Tadao Ando abides by the law of mutability of function. This is so ironically stated when considering the ‘Room of silence’ where the technical function is to apply acoustic control in order to mute the outside world. On the other end of the scale Zaha Hadid’s fire station might be interpreted to almost be in a state of becoming as one’s perception of reality become warped. A slanted line turns out to be straight and a straight line turns out to be curved, the very basis of the design is to create the idea of motion.
    Both these buildings aim to create specific experiences through altering the environment, Tadao Ando’s approach seems very technically driven and almost subtle against the bold and expressive methods of Zaha Hadid. It’s hard to imagine these buildings with such strong and vastly different characters being in the same vicinity and how they would influence each other.

  14. Evonne Akinyi s207059503 Evonne Akinyi s207059503 25 February 2014

    In terms of Vitra company’s set objectives for the campus, the body of architects has successfully executed the brief by producing architectural icons of opposing and/or contradictory in nature. separate entities influenced by the different schools of thought. However there are underlying themes that connect the various buildings as per the aforementioned brief;
    Theres decidedly clarity of material and form in line with the vitra aesthetic and technical expertise, this precedent is set by Nicholas Grimshaws factory buildings. Most of the later works are conscious of scale in relation to their surrounding and in relation to other installations, of note is Tadao Andos conference pavillion which is sunk below ground, as unobtrusive as possible. It also takes cognizance of the natural cosmic landscape creating a path of contemplation into the building which continues on the same theme. An ‘opposing’ approach is the VitraHaus by Hertzog and DeMeuron, the Flagship of the company which stands out at 57m in height, they however adressed fitting in to the landscape by a play of the archetypal house form and use of material that connects it with the earth.
    The aim set out by the Vitra company for the campus projects was a formation of contradictory ensemble of contemporary architecture that is harmonised with the buildings that are in the locality, and are sensitive to the landscape and scale. All projects have interpreted these aspects with varying degrees and approaches.

  15. Chadd Blignaut Chadd Blignaut 25 February 2014

    I see the Virta campus as set of buildings which are these sculptures within a landscape, I particularly am intrigued by the nature of their materiality and orientation which suggests that each buildings expression is unique to the context it’s in ,they all share the same space but all relate so differently to the context in there expression and spatial configuration. Tadao Ando’s conference centre which engages in a dialogue with the landscape, it’s subtlety and sensitivity to the space has a sense of timelessness and immutability as it’s space is introverted and internally shut off from reality but visually connected to nature. Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry’s buildings are the expression of mutability and becoming, evoking the feeling of change and mutation, when experiencing these buildings they create a feeling of a structure which is constantly changing and reshaping itself. There mutation and flexibility through the combination of various techniques used with lines creates expectation rather than a meditative state of mind. The various exhibitions of these buildings are unique in that they are symbols which represent well renowned architects, they create the opportunity to experience diverse typologies and expressions of architecture on a single platform.

  16. Jarrod Ryan Jooste Jarrod Ryan Jooste 25 February 2014

    At first reading through this, perhaps with the exception of Tadao Ando’s work I was wondering where on earth Herzog and de Meuron’s Vitra Haus was; and yet finally it appeared. I find this piece particularly intriguing with the shapes reminiscent of a conventional house almost randomly put together into this multi-layered “museum” showcasing not only the furniture, but the views. It is incredibly unique even on a campus with such a variety of work by other well-known architects. Personally I found Zaha’s fire station weirdly “comfortable” to view in this setting. Perhaps it’s got to do with the other famous works, but I’m guessing its more to do with the simple fact that it is off-norm compared to her usual work (I realise that statement is ironic in itself). In interpreting the building her use of geometry allows each perspective to be unique, where parallel lines are obscured when viewing from certain positions and vertical lines are diagonal in others. With regard to Gehry’s work, expression of function is evident with its swooping staircase, incredibly large awning shading light and marking the entrance, and lighting the interiors. Although, a certain roof light looks quite out of place, well for a design by Gehry that is… Ando’s work is engaging with the user and with the environment as well. Ando enforces the silences of meditation through an intense use of heavy materials and glazing technology, while connecting one to limited views of the natural…

  17. Monica Haufiku Monica Haufiku 25 February 2014

    It’s interesting to see how different the buildings are as a collective whole, but when seen individually they blend in with their surroundings in a variety of positions within the context of the campus (spatial dialogue). The Vitra campus is complex, because they all somehow respond to spirit of time.
    Different architects celebrated on one ground – The campus is indeed a museum of Architecture: Archè meaning origin (immutable -being) and Techne (mutable – becoming) –with the obvious tension. Herzog & de Meuron’s VitraHaus is a Combination of smooth (being) and striated spaces (becoming), the openness of the site/environment being smooth (the site is unchangeable)and the building becomes mutable (stacked houses), creating that tension (knowledge)
    Tadao Andoas buildings are temple like, e.g. Conference centre, would be described as a place of rest, space as ‘Being’ because it is a state of tranquillity “(relation to Outside view , too, no noise distractions, and interior materials) and the ‘source of everything’. His spatial strategy, by a highly ordered spatial articulation, from the width of corridors, volume and materials used, creates an experience.
    Hundartwasser believed that the highest order is from of chaos. Zaha Hadid is a DEconstructivist, her Fire station building, is with the form being in a fluid state (no claim for hierarchy). “Its lack of colour and right angles provides visitors with an unusual spatial experience”. When you inside the space it changes…

  18. Jeanne Scholtz Jeanne Scholtz 25 February 2014

    What strikes me about the Vitra Campus is the obvious stance against the concept of a consistent corporate identity. The “heterogeneous ensemble of contemporary architecture”, as it is described on the Vitra website.

    Thus if there is no single identity, can it be perceived as a celebration of differences – and thus argued that hierarchy is eliminated. If striated space refers to the hierarchical, then the “heterogeneous ensemble” of the Vitra campus can be described as smooth space – in a state of becoming.

  19. Marc Chilton Marc Chilton 25 February 2014

    To remove the striated from the smooth is to ignore the possibility of there being one without the other. To be striated is to be mutable – that which has an ordered hierarchy and is subject to arrangement, whereas smooth space is that which is immutable; referred to as nomadic space. To me, in the context of Veil am Hein, the campus could represent a ‘smooth’ landscape space with seemingly heterogeneous architectural sculptures. The architectural offerings let the site develop as nomadic spaces when related to one another on this plane but individually, have various aspects of the striated and smooth space types.

    While not having visited the campus and having only online resources and second hand information, the spatial experience of these buildings is not entirely subjective. From the catalogue of buildings, two have contrasting compositions:

    Ando’s Meditation Centre seems to be striated as it has a sense of hierarchy and order and is entirely based on a process of the change of state of a mind through the strict control of space type. This seems to indicate that the architecture relies on the striated to control an environment to a certain end.

    When searching for a space which one can define as a nomadic or smooth space type, I feel it is what Hadid’s Fire Station attempts to be. The Station ignores the mutable – our perception of hierarchy and order to remove us from this understanding and knowledge to experience space as it is rather than how we perceive…

  20. Ashleigh Lategan Ashleigh Lategan 25 February 2014

    Architecture can be analyzed in terms of the greek definition ‘arche’ and ‘techne’. Which can be defined by the concepts of smooth space (being) and striated space (becoming), the immutable and mutable.

    When considering the Vitra campus, which houses a collection of buildings designed by the leading architects of the world, one can see that the principles of smooth and striated space do co-exist. The campus which is located in Weil am Hein landscape serves as the given smooth space which is immutable or unchanging, hence the being. Whereas collectively the architecture, poses as sculptural objects, are evidently striated in nature and heterogeneous (not of the same nature).

    However individually the buildings too can be defined by smooth and striated space. The conference centre, by Tadao Ando, is interpreted as predominantly striated in nature. There is an organized level of hierarchy given to the spatial strategy of the building as well as implementing a concept of a mutable architecture where he controls and creates a specific tranquil environment. He also includes the immutable by setting up a juxtaposition between building and nature. Which creates a beautiful dialogue between the smooth and striated space.

  21. Megan Pollock Megan Pollock 26 February 2014

    Architecture. Arché – techné. Being – becoming. Immutable – mutable. Body – mind. The word ‘architecture’ can be taken apart and interpreted in order to understand the two opposite yet co–dependant aspects of buildings, their designs and how they are experienced.By understanding these two fundamentally different aspects in architecture one can begin to analyse and categorise buildings into either arché (being, immutable, body), techné (becming, mutable, mind) or a combination of both.

    Having drawn insights from the above article it seems evident that Tadao Andos’ Conference centre pivots around the experiential qualities of space. Provocative, contemplation spaces are created in both the room of silence (a dialog is set up between inside and outside) and the narrow, solitary entrance into the building. Does the building simply serve to fulfil its functional requirements or does it go beyond that? Does it, in addition, activate the cognitive mind as apposed to merely catering for bodily requirements? Tadao Andos’ Conference centre, while tangible, also celebrates the intangible, it celebrates arché – being – the immutable – the mind.

  22. AJ Smith AJ Smith 26 February 2014

    There is no doubt that the vitra campus is a spectacular place to visit. Seeing world renown architects strut their stuff.
    At first looking at the campus (on the vitra website) one thinks how can this all be on one campus, nothing seems to work together or talk the same language and I know looking at photos wont give the bigger picture of the idea and the greater plan at work, but taking a deeper look one realises the meticulous placing and design finesse that went into every building on campus. An example that springs to mind is the fire station that so finely placed when looking at it from the factory building or the placing of Ando’s building; only one cherry tree had to be removed in to make place for it. Then one starts to think about the intention of each building and the campus vision and realises that this might be what was intended in the first place, each building, this beautiful sculpture in a somewhat ‘bland’ landscape (what I gathered from the photos)
    In the end we as architects can be so critical on places like the vitra campus, because of its diverse nature and its “spectacular” buildings. But why is that? Cant architecture sometimes be what we want it to be (within reason) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if 90% of society decides something is beautiful, why can’t it be just that..

  23. Sanan N, 205000983 (1 of 2) Sanan N, 205000983 (1 of 2) 26 February 2014

    If one speaks about two states, of “being” and “becoming” there must surely be a middle ground between them (similar to the gap between Plato and Aristotle’s philosophies). I propose that it is between these two states that we consciously exist, with cues and influences of the outside world drawing us towards a particular state of existence, even if it is just for a moment. This state of limbo between “being” and “becoming” embraces the transcendental dimension that Kant spoke about. Concordantly the very physical relationship that would be created within space is generated in accordance with Husserl’s “natural attitude” of thought.

    The spaces created within certain architectures can evoke ones consciousness, at any stage of genesis. It is an individual’s reaction to these spaces that will move them in a certain way. In this instance, one can react with an empirical sense of self, remaining relative and individual within an absolute, this is a sense of being. However one can also abstract their consciousness within a universal context, causing a re-calibration of their sense of self, which in turn can implement a change in consciousness, the very crux of development, this is a sense of becoming. The very difference in consciousness encapsulates the fundamentals of thought and as Descartes famously said, “I think, therefore I am”. (conclusion to follow)

  24. Sanan N, 205000983 (2 of 2) Sanan N, 205000983 (2 of 2) 26 February 2014

    There is no way of quantifying the degree to which we feel and think, however, it is undeniable that as individuals we feel more strongly about certain things. With respect to the Vitra, given its contrasts and aesthetic beauty (both natural and man made), individuals are prone to have a stronger sense of feeling and the area will provoke thought within ones self. The amplitude of these thoughts and feelings is directly related to the very sense of being or becoming that will materialise within one’s consciousness. I have not been to the Vitra, I do not understand the feelings the spaces evoke, but in accordance with what I have written, who am I to say what is successful. Each person will have a unique relationship with each experience of space. What I have merely proposed is why the Vitra is a remarkable place to experience, and how it is relevant to our consciousness within a sense of “being” and “becoming”.

  25. T. Pretorius T. Pretorius 26 February 2014

    The Arche and Techne as read in the Vitra Campus…
    Tadoa Ando’s conference pavilion exhibits his mastery of bringing one to awareness or emphasising the Arche through manipulation of the Techne…
    His work often allows one to quiet the mind and enter a state of contemplation in which one is aware of the infinite and immutable.. the Arche. he achieves this, in many of his works, by carefully manipulating the tangible and material, that which becomes…the Techne. Ando’s conference centre seems to achieve this by carefully juxtaposing the opposing forces of the man made and the natural, that which is temporal, in constant flux presented alongside that which is static and permanent, heightening ones awareness of each. This in my opinion produces a building which is subtle and understated yet striking. it is one of the only buildings w

  26. T. Pretorius T. Pretorius 26 February 2014

    The Arche and Techne as read in the Vitra Campus…
    Tadoa Ando’s conference pavilion exhibits his mastery of bringing one to awareness or emphasising the Arche through manipulation of the Techne…
    His work often allows one to quiet the mind and enter a state of contemplation in which one is aware of the infinite and immutable.. the Arche. he achieves this, in many of his works, by carefully manipulating the tangible and material, that which becomes…the Techne. Ando’s conference centre seems to achieve this by carefully juxtaposing the opposing forces of the man made and the natural, that which is temporal, in constant flux presented alongside that which is static and permanent, heightening ones awareness of each. This in my opinion produces a building which is subtle and understated yet striking.
    Zaha Hadid’s firestation, by contrast, seems itself to be in flux, constantly tricking the senses and defying assumption, in so doing presenting one with challenging spaces and experiences…

  27. Jan de Wet Jan de Wet 26 February 2014

    The Vitra Campus can be considered as much of a gallery as any indoor facility that house works masters artists. Like many great museums such as the Louvre or the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Vitra Campus should be considered in the same light; a collection on the backdrop of the landscape. Like a trip to the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, you are taken on a journey of the artist’s development in style, technique and approach. The work progress, change and when reaching the final exhibition, it’s clear how his style has undergone a metamorphoses from highly realistic portraits to very abstract representations. What makes the Vitra Campus different in response to the Picasso Museum is that the architecture is ‘displayed’ very similar to that of the Louvre. It’s a collection of different architectural contributors, each operating within a different theoretical framework, a different response to technology and materiality, context and ultimately having a unique expression. Therefore to compare the different entities on the campus is much like comparing a Rembrandt to a Hirst. Similar to how we appreciate conceptual art, not necessarily for its ‘beauty’ but rather for technique and the theoretical discourse in which it was conceived, so we have to look at the architecture of the Vitra Campus.

  28. D. Tyson D. Tyson 26 February 2014

    At first the campus appears as though it is a conglomeration of different ideas with each architect enforcing their own ideals “too many cooks spoil the broth” . After looking at it with “arche” and “techne” lecture in mind, I started to see the each building as part of the “arche” or being, and the conglomeration of these buildings as the “techne” or becoming of the campus as a whole rather than separate entities. Each building is an ingredient of the campus apposed to being a stand alone sculpture. The tension/contradictions between them makes one hyperaware of the other.

  29. Athi Athi 26 February 2014

    When looking at the whole Vitra Campus there are 15 structures which are present in the vast flat landscape. The structures range from the large and monolithic objects e.g. Naves de produccion by Nicholas Grimshaw to small sculptural features such as the Balancing Tools , Claes Oldenburg. Buildings range in age and expression as well: from 1984 to 2012. It is interesting to draw parallels between the age of the buildings and their expressions in most of the buildings in the Vitra Campus. The most intriguing case is Frank Ghery’s transformation and his earlier factory building compared to his Museum… Ghery has evolved as an architect and conveys “mutable” aspects of architectural aesthetics.
    The most controversial buildings in the Vitra Campus are obviously the: VitraHaus, the Dome, the Design Museum and the Pabellon de conferencia. To some degree they reflect the diversity of the furniture through the buildings. An interesting dialogue is created amongst the buildings, within that dialogue there is a sense of harmony in the scale and the pompous form. The relationship between the buildings and the landscape varies with all the four structures, the dome is integrated into the ground, the VitraHause frames views and displays the masterpieces, the Museum does not have much conversation to the exterior and the Conference Centre has taken the most intricate consideration of the outdoors through creating the journey into the building, framing views and visual connectivity etc

  30. Nawsheen Lall Mahomed Nawsheen Lall Mahomed 26 February 2014

    As part of my understanding of the article and the lecture on Arche and Techne, I can relate Tadao Ando’s Conference centre to what was described as “being” (what never changes). Ando allows the user to disengage with the unnecessarily components around oneself when he forces one to proceed in single file. And the building itself proposes a twilight zone where one is between the real word and the state of meditation. The manner that the building engages with the surroundings while keeping away the noise indeed enhances the tranquility that reigns within such a space. The progression through the building, in a sense, also suggests a certain degree of hierarchy (striated) as the experience of the user is ‘controlled’ (if I can use this word) by the spaces. Zaha Hadid’s fire station, on the other hand, is more of the “becoming”, where the user encounters the unexpected as one moves through the building. The same applies to Herzog and De Meuron’s Vitra House where the elements of surprise are enhanced through the spaces. The manner in each user experiences these two buildings is not dictated in any way (smooth space) and is very subjective. And this explains the “becoming” as ‘what changes all the time’.

  31. Soumya Varghese Soumya Varghese 26 February 2014

    As a point of departure Nathans point interests me;
    “Each person will have a unique relationship with each experience of space.”

    I very much agree with this statement: an individual’s experience and understanding of space leads to very different perceptions of the world. As architects our perception of the world (question of existence, norms, beliefs etc) allows us to create our own, personal physical and spatial expressions of our perceptions. And this can be further elaborated through the notion of Being (our knowledge, the essence, and the mutable) and Becoming (coming into existence through the craft, materiality).

    Our knowledge is either learnt through the process of erudition or through our experiences through an engagement with our world. It’s either the stuff learnt in books or the first hand experiences which shape our thinking and our actions. With this being said, can it be concluded that our work arche + techne; the immutable and mutable; are a result of our Being and Becoming process coming into play in a physical and spatial manifestation (the built environment).

    If this line of thinking is correct, then can we presume that all these buildings are rooted in the context of our knowledge –which is derived from our environment, our world? Some of the buildings may not be rooted in the physical context (the space around the buildings) but in a rather larger network of idea’s, knowledge and thought.

  32. Soumya Varghese Soumya Varghese 26 February 2014

    For example, the Vitra Fire Station by Zaha Hadid are not entirely site/context specific buildings but their Being and Becoming aspects are rooted in a knowledge of deconstruction which has its own take and philosophies on place and context and are accompanied by the myriads of truth that accompany any given text.

    I draw on the conclusion then, that Being and Becoming are intertwined notions and cannot be separated to describe a building –but that every building is a manifestation of the knowledge thought to conceive it and the craft (the making process) through which it is made physical.

  33. Wesley Nash Wesley Nash 26 February 2014

    Who needs a painting?

    These buildings seem to operate in an artificial realm, artificial in the sense that the conceptual world, from which these artifacts were conceived, is absolutely realized on the Vitra campus in Basel. The campus appears a virtual world, littered with obscure moments driven by egocentric stylism and architectural character traits. These works of architecture are characterized by their authors, and resist cohesion with the neighbouring urban and natural landscapes.

    Vitra campus contains the architecture of markers, marking what… exactly, is mysterious. Even the muted Tadao Ando building asserts its presence as it cuts into the campus landscape setting itself apart from the formal geometry of the urban environment, as well as, integrates itself physically, as a permanent marker, on the earth.

    Maybe these buildings mark a unique “place” on earth where architectural showmanship and technocracy can soar. I’m not entirely convinced that these works of architecture, albeit Ando’s conference center, evoke a sense of “being” as understood by the early Greeks or more recently Martin Heidegger for that matter. But they sure do entertain the eye.

  34. Alexandra Alexandra 26 February 2014

    The notion of being and becoming, in reality, is really quite broad. This idea can be applied to any number of instances, however, one that this article has sparked a thought on, is the idea of journey. A journey is almost never a straight path, there are dramatic changes in environment, terrain, position and orientation within any journey, which create moments. These moments are created by the setting up of situations which are characterized by a specific time and place, within a particular field of space. Perhaps the process of the journey could be likened to that of becoming and the moments to the sense of being. It is often said that one is in the moment, however perhaps, by being, you are the moment. After all, the environmental situation is in the end, just a situation, it is the presence of being which recognizes the significance of the situation and creates the moment. To this end, the formerly described experience of Basel is like that of becoming, and within that there have been moments of being. The Vitrahaus understands this, as it formulates a path through the stack of houses which is determined by views in the landscape. It creates a journey which allows for both becoming and moments for being; for being with the landscape, within a particular, contrasting environment. It is the two unrelated environments, natural and designed, which co-exist in their opposing natures and yet each highlighting the grandeur of the other, that create the moments of magic, of being

  35. Ash Erlangsen Ash Erlangsen 27 February 2014

    Usually I don’t have much appreciation for over indulgent buildings that sit as objects in their context. However the architecture at Virta Campus is different. Situated on the campus of a creative furniture company, it allows for an almost experimental approach where famous architects and artists have designed remarkable, thought provoking masterpieces. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to experience the architecture for myself but it still provides exceptional examples of striated and smooth space and the mutable and immutable nature of them.

    To me, Tadoa Ando’s Conference Pavilion best describes striated space. The narrow path leading up to the entrance already starts to create a degree of control over how one experiences the space. This order and hierarchy of spaces is set up with the aim to change ones state of mind before entering.

    On the other hand Zaha Hadid’s Fire Station, an example of deconstructive architecture which undermines hierarchy showing that none of the elements of the building can claim dominance over the other. Whilst Hadid’s Fire Station is a great example of smooth space it still possesses qualities of striated space. These two opposites, striated and smooth, are co-dependant and though one might be more evident over another, both examples of space will always be found in Architecture.

  36. Tegally G Tegally G 27 February 2014

    Looking at the different masterpieces of the Vitra Campus from an essence vs. existence point of view, they can be categorised into either ‘being’ or ‘becoming’. The Conference Pavillion by Tadao Ando, can most certainly be classified as one which has to do with the ‘being’. The state of tranquility within reflects the eternal, which deals with the essence and the truth. The VitraHaus, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, is on the other hand, one which has to do with the ‘becoming’. The design, inspired by the typical house shape, consists of superimposed gabled houses. It can be clearly seen that it is a particular of the ‘house’ typology and thus the existence of it, not the essence. Consequently, it can be classified under ‘becoming’ since it is part of the many and only temporary. The Fire Station, designed by Zaha Hadid, and the Vitra Design Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, both are specific buildings which challenge the ‘being’, that is the form of the building. The Fire Station is a sculpture-like building which provides visitors with an unusual spatial experience while the Design Museum is a work of deconstructivism. One will feel disoriented or confused when looking at these buildings and experiencing them because it is difficult to determine their essence, since they do not have a particular form. Not being able to ascertain the essence and the form of a building, it is even harder to determine its existence; without the being, there is no becoming.

  37. Mark Robbins 210076143 Mark Robbins 210076143 18 March 2014

    In my mind, the two most intriguing buildings on the Vitra Campus are Tadao Ando’s Conference Pavilion and The Vitra House by Herzog and De Meuron. Interestingly, when looking at the type of spaces they create (being vs becoming – striated vs smooth) these buildings seem to completely contrast each other.

    To me, Ando can be seen as a master of provoking a sense of tranquillity through his architecture – spaces of being, and his pavilion at the Vitra Campus is no exception. This building also seems to give the clearest indication of striated space of all those on the campus, with its clear hierarchy and control of spaces. Whilst being one of many object buildings place on this landscape, I feel Ando has managed to gain a perceptual connection with the physical context which the others have failed to do.

    Vitra House is seen to me to be a complete contrast to Ando’s pavilion – being entirely an object in space. It is a prime example of smooth space – a space of ‘becoming’ and its total disorder most certainly doesn’t evoke feelings of tranquillity. However, it is this disorder and intriguing sense of mystery guiding you to flow through the spaces merely by your own unique perception that would attract me to this building before any other.

  38. Jess Burgess 209202024 Jess Burgess 209202024 25 March 2014

    Architecturally contextualising the characteristics of striated and smooth spatial configuration; results in an architecture preoccupied with either the “being” or “becoming” of spatial organisation.

    The characteristics of Tadao Ando’s Conference Centre in comparison to Zaha Hadid’s Exhibition Centre articulate the various spatial arrangements and the predominant nature of each building. Tadao Ando’s centre encourages unique individual experiences – defined by enclosure and spatial awareness. There is repetitive emphasis on the solitary experience of ‘place’; enforced by both the approach to the building and the nature of its internal spaces. Articulation of juxtaposition – the “room for silence” located near a busy road allows the user to isolate clarity and witness the serene in a somewhat conflicted environment; in order to experience a state of serenity. Ando’s use of materials and screens to direct the attention of the occupant distils the experience right down to the root of human emotion, encouraging an opportunity for mediation. One can imagine a sense of “being”, through solitude and experience, resulting in the dominance of a striated spatial construct.

  39. Jess Burgess 209202024 Jess Burgess 209202024 25 March 2014

    In contrast, Zaha Hadid’s deconstructive exhibition space seems to provoke an architecture of a satirical nature – nothing is as it appears to be or is as would be expected in the discipline of Architecture. The building comprises of a series of contradicting experiences, adhering to no hierarchical organisational construct. This example of smooth space attempts to distort rigid organisation, in favour of the alternative: the unexpected.

  40. Mathew Binda Mathew Binda 7 May 2014

    All art, literature and architecture are deeply rooted in the times in which they were created. Intertwining social events are the foundations, which are directly translated into form, whether it be physical or ideological. What interests me, is the TIMES we live in today. The capitalist society we live in reflects our obsession with wealth, status and alternative realities, rather than a concern with social or historical imperative. This is exhibited in the avant-garde architecture which we value, instead of an architecture derived from capturing the essence of a place. Now, I am not saying that architecture of present times does not take cognisance of place, but abstracts these attributes into something that is not directly recognizable and concentrates on developing spatial experience. These relate to a set of intellectual processes that have their own merit, but are culturally severe because of their unfamiliarity. I recently watched a movie titled ‘The Monuments Men’ which is set in the course of WW2, during which, a diverse group of artisans went out into the depths of a war torn Europe to retrieve significant works stolen by the Nazis for Hitler’s private Museum. These artifacts contain society’s rich cultural heritage and the importance in maintaining this for future reference was noticed by these individuals. Today’s architecture does not echo the same sentiment of value of the cultural semiotics. I hate to imagine the urban environment’s character,…

  41. Mathew Binda Mathew Binda 7 May 2014

    I hate to imagine the urban environment’s character, should we continue to act on intellectual abstraction alone.

  42. Jan du Toit Jan du Toit 9 May 2014

    Jan du Toit
    Nmmu Architecture s210236892

    Vitra Campus being a “heterogeneous ensemble of contemporary architecture”, creates a smooth space which partly consists of objects in the form of iconic architecture demarcating spaces , in a “almost” modernist manor .

    The architecture and the Urban spatial configuration it sits within is unique in a sense where it reminds the viewers of the past and the “controlled chaotic” journey architecture has taken to become truly modern . this can be seen in the individual expression of each “masterpiece” and the way in which the buildings have been disorderly placed within its environment.

    The Campus gives the viewer the opportunity to experience complete diversity in terms of architectural expressions and highlights this phenomenon through the use of orientation , placement and configuration of buildings in its urban setting.

  43. Siyabulela Njikelana Siyabulela Njikelana 9 May 2014

    The Vitra Campus is another reminder of the disadvantages we still face in South Africa. Were we consider ourselves the capital country of Africa (and well so in terms of Resources and Development) but when it comes to the majority of architecture produced we fall short from this highly esteemed image we give ourselves. Why is that? I believe we live in an incredibly rich country (in terms of African standards), and such as our European counterparts or in this instance The City of Basel, we need to start understanding our resources so that we can Invest more towards the architecture of the growing infrastructure which is desperately needed in a country or city with any form of distinguished rank.
    I ask myself why is there a lack of importance attached to architecture produced here? In Regard of this am glad to see strides from some South African architects towards creating marvelling and entrancing architecture and space. This gives me an optimist outlook to the future and mostly the present of South African cities, as we have learnt and gained the skills of being able to modulate beautiful and astonishing buildings. But there are gaps between the distribution of resources, or the structural systems of the South African Built Environment, or Socio Political structures that govern it. One thing is clear for me, and that is we need to choose a directive in architecture of this country as we have in our presence in the continent.

  44. Richard Rautenbach Richard Rautenbach 10 May 2014

    The Vitra Campus is composed of various stunning artefacts that are within themselves beautiful “sculptures” and stimulating spaces to experience. This is understandable to anyone, but to those who understand the spatial economy of an urban landscape would further realise that these buildings have all been built as monuments to display the undeniable skills of these renowned architects. A good example to this being Zaha Hadid’s “first-ever commissioned building”, the “fire station – which is no longer used as such, but serves as an exhibition space instead”. I believe that buildings, as much as I love art and sculpture, should first and foremost practical entities. This does not have to detract, by any means, from a buildings ability to be aesthetically beautiful and stimulating, but I do believe when a building is only concerned with itself, then something is wrong. I don’t know the reason for this building having changed functions, but it doesn’t convince me in being a fire station at all. That mostly due to the Deconstructivist nature of the design. With all the above mentioned I do believe buildings should be far greater concerned with being integrated into the urban fabric of a city, especially that of such an historical place, Basel, and serve as architecture was intended to serve.


  45. Richard Rautenbach Richard Rautenbach 10 May 2014


    Society should become more content with life in its simplicity (if I can call it that) and stop being obsessed with trying to merge all into “Singularity”, which ultimately complicates our lives and misses the point originally intended. The day of a robot-computer-human will be a sad day… for me at least.

  46. Zach Botha # Zach Botha # 11 May 2014


    The Vitra campus is a conglomeration of architectural intervention set on a stage where the mutable object becomes the ideal expression of an egocentric game of intellect. A Landscape is created where the relevance of integration takes a back seat to the unapologetic intrusion of the “becoming”, overpowering the calm and sensible state of “being”. Although this ‘game’ is played on the same turf, one must admire the differing strategies by its multiple authors leading to the varying expressions which is technocratic in its essence, producing a canvas true to the spirit of its time.
    One building to defy the game of objectivity is the conference pavilion by Tadoa Ando, he enters in a dialogue with his surroundings by contributing a sensible intervention which draws parallels with the immutable nature of a state of “being”, a building which captures the subtleness of its environment. It is an architecture of delightful surprise, opposed to the radically complex which draws its users into an expected surprise.
    The Vitra campus can be seen as an intellectual theme park, where every attraction does specifically what it should, which is to wow the user, each its own form of “becoming”.

  47. Andy Goedhals Andy Goedhals 15 May 2014

    In considering the Vitra campus as a whole, one can be constantly reminded of the contrasting prerogatives of architects and creatives alike. Notions of stance are strongly exhibited in the composition of each individual piece, bringing about a personal contemplation upon a person, especially if they were to be an architect negotiating architecture and its theoretical discourse.
    This brings upon a reminiscence of notions of egotism vs humility, which are beautifully described in the tale of The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.

    Analysing the characteristics of striated and smooth space; exemplifies an architecture constantly drawing in on, or moving away from “being” or “becoming” of a spatial configuration.

    Personally, the two most intriguing buildings on the campus, which bring about the contrast of stance, are Tadao Ando’s Conference pavilion and The Vitra house by Hertzog and de Meuron.
    Ando has displayed his mastery of space and place, by bringing about notions of solitude and humility within the confines of his craft. The building is an example of striated space, displaying threshold and spatial gradient.
    The Vitra house shows a disregard of the immediate context and is an object in space, albeit an interesting architectural expression. This is purposely done and is uniquely defining smooth space.

    In my opinion, none of the buildings on the campus are bothered with ‘being’ nor ‘becoming’, but rather merely existing, as objects in space.


  48. Seth Pote Seth Pote 16 May 2014

    At first glance the Vitra campus seems to have no common thread linking place, space, movement and people. The campus severely lacks dictation of social logic. With the exception of Tadao Ando’s Conference Pavilion, the elitist and detached buildings sit as viral expressions in a natural park-like landscape. It is as if a rich European merchant has gone to the four corners of the world to pick out the strangest, most exotic, vicious and interesting animals, only to display them as singular objects at his private dinner party, detached from their environment and void of all meaning. The quality of the experience however, is second to none, where else can one experience the harmony and tranquility of Ando’s work next to the abruptness and powerful elongated forms of Hadid’s. For this reason, Vitra can be seen as an experiential library of architectural splendor. The campus undoubtably seems to intentionally aggravate or activate the human senses, as do the individual objects or buildings on the landscape. Whether one likes it or not, they are all different buildings by different starchitects, some may be sensitive objects set in nature, others egotistical objects existing in space, but what nice objects they are.

  49. Z.Visser 208014997 Z.Visser 208014997 16 May 2014

    Vitra Campas provides a platform on which to journey through the many disciplines of architecture. It’s success lies in an exhibit of architectural works and thus principles which both compliment and contradict one another. The Vitra Campas requested that the commissioned architects sought to create buildings that harmonized both with the surrounding residential areas and the natural landscaped. To ensure the viewer was presented with the most accurate summary of each architectural discipline, architects which were felt to be the most iconic representation of each discipline where selected to fulfil the brief. As a result each discipline can be viewed interacting and responding to context and landscape with respect to its specific principles. The viewer is presented with a wide spectrum of examples, ranging from Tadao Ando’s Japanese minimalist dialogue with nature to Hertoge de Meuron’s representation of domestic vernacular architecture to produce a place specific architecture. The result is a successful representation of the discourse of architecture.

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