Please imagine what a surprise that must have been when Mateo Kries called us asking if we’d like to design a book on the Vitra Campus..... and on top of that, mentioning that Mr. Rolf Fehlbaum, Mr. Vitra himself, asked for us... this was beyond.
Daily dose of Architecture was writing on our Vitra Campus book…
The first thing one sees when opening the cover is a simplified map of the campus with labeled buildings in gray against a white background. This map on the inside of the front cover folds out to reveal a timeline that continues to the inside of the back cover. So even before delving into book's introduction or its foreword, one has a handle on the geography and built history of Vitra; an understanding that does not require even a visit. Inside, the projects are found chronologically with color photos, brief descriptions, and a short bio and list of important projects on their creators. At the end of the book is Hubertus Adam's interview with Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra's manager at the time of the fire and the main instigator of the campus's vision. Appropriately the interview is titled "The Client as Curator."
While the interview with Fehlbaum provides some valuable insight on the shaping of the campus, the rest of the book is not particularly deep. But it doesn't need to be. The book acts as a guide to the campus, but it is also a memento for those who were able to visit and a celebration for a company that has used architecture to extend its appeal and create a place the public can actually visit, unlike most factories. Some of the best illustrations are the photographs that depict the spaces where the public may not venture, such as the factory floor of the SANAA building; even more of these types of behind-the-scenes shots would have been welcome. After all architecture has the double role of making places (exteriors) and shaping spaces (interiors). This book captures how Vitra has embraced that role in the last 30+ years through a diverse assemblage of buildings.