You’ve probably all seen this elsewhere, but there’s now much more to drool over online regarding Herzog & de Meuron’s 12 gabled VitraHaus in Weil am Rhein. It is a showroom for the company’s home collection, a rather schizophrenic assembly of new and reissued works, and as such is best seen as the updated version of Frank Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum, one of that architect’s first opportunities to build in the manner with which we have become familiar.
Herzog & de Meuron have already had ample opportunity to build what they want, but I think this building also represents a dream project for them. For years they have been talking about disengaging the gallery from the museum, shaping each room’s experience separately, and giving the visitor spaces in which to space out. They proposed one version for the top of the Tate Modern, another for the Parrish Art Museum. Both looked like stacks of smaller buildings. Neither is going to happen. So this haus looks to me like a domestic version of that idea, stacking the traditional house to make what could be a child’s drawing of an apartment building. But it also inverts that idea, as the interior combines and connects those traditional volumes into much weirder, more display-oriented spaces. It is a home. It is a museum. I’ll have to visit before I can figure out if it is good design.