June 17, 2007

Basel 2 (Switzerland)

Our time in Basel coincided with Art Basel, an annual art gallery opening festival with hundreds of showings from artists around the world. There were many related happenings in the streets, from decorated cars, scantily clad women, sculpture, and "art graffiti" walls by zmik designers. We followed a red carpet from a plaza into an old transportation warehouse and were led up several escalators leading to an entire floor filled with installations from the "Swiss Art Awards." It was mixed overall, but there were some compelling architectural exhibits that experimented with form and presentation (see photos.)

In the southwestern outskirts of Basel near Biel-Benken we visited some apartments designed by Peter Zumthor, an almost entirely flush-when-closed set of buildings clad with gray-painted plywood panels over a concrete structure. The concrete work was very sharp, and detailing was simple and clean. It felt very warm and lived-in with generous outdoor yards and personalized touches such as individual addresses written in chalk, plants, etc. A great introduction to the many Zumthor projects we look forward to seeing on this trip.

On Friday the 15th we bused out to the aiport to pick-up our rental car, a brand new
peugot 307 (diesel). Actually for cost reasons we decided to lease a car, so we own it until they "buy it back" in July. (That should "keep it real" in downtown Lyon and the curvy single-lane roads high in the Swiss Alps). Driving was surreal for the first few hours, and lets just say the GPS paid for itself by the time we made it back to the Hostel.

Saturday we drove to the Vitra campus and several other projects in Weil am Rhein. The Gehry building on the campus housed an exhibition of future perspectives on the home called "Home Stories," with installations by Hella Jongerius, Greg Lynn, and others. Hella's entry was an unusual three-dimensional construct made of colored shelving, furniture and accessories, encirled with textile drapes slowly moving on aluminum tracks.. her message seemed to be a plea for more conscious use of color in the home environment. Greg Lynn's installation was a chaotic room filled with wild, geometric shapes and colors seemingly from the pages of a comic book on one side, and three-dimensionally designed furniture pieces and a series of manga robots he claimed to be the inspiration source for his forms on the other (side of the room).

New on campus was a slick stainless steel bus stop with Bertoia wire mesh chairs by Jasper Morrison... we also came across a model of an upcoming Herzog & de Meuron building, a series of intersecting rectangular tubes in an almost crystalline structure.. straight from the diagrams of the AMO journal
Content. The air at Vitra was a little thin.. the parking lot was filled with almost all BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis. Entrance fees were high and the feel of all the hyper-designed 'test-tube' buildings left something to be desired. Complaints aside, Vitra should be recognized for thier efforts of encouraging a heightened design-awareness.

A few kilometers away we visited a small photography studio designed by Herzog and de Mueron. An addition to an existing house, the studio is clad with lapped stained exterior plywood spaced with square runs of trim, creating strong shadowlines. Three diamond-shaped light wells skinned in zinc paneling (or aluminum?) peer upwards from the roofline.

The Zaha Hadid LF One pavillion in Weil am Rein is exciting in form, but seems to be quite run-down. Over-run with weeds and tagged-up with spray paint, it felt somewhat beaten. The cafe below was closed for a wedding, but we still managed to get in to see the restrooms.

1 comment:

  1. hey! aya&todd!


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