Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Gerhy Research (Personal Notes)

1 - Frank Gehry tended to create warped version of traditional architecture (eg. Dancing House).
2 - He liked to create contrasts via juxtaposition
3 - Re-known as a pioneer of deconstructionalism and abstraction architecture.
4 - Inspired by fish, in particularly its form (such as Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (1997), Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003), Vila Olympica in Barcelona, Lewis House in Lyndhurst, Ohio (1989-1995), Fish Dance Restaurant (1986-1987))
5 - Known to take random objects; big or small, and turn them into habitable architecture (such as Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation, a new museum for Modern Art in Paris)
6 - Communicated his ideas through initial sketches, developing sketches, 3D models and eventually Computer simulated graphics. Sketches being his most prominent design tool.
7 - Gehry's Vitra Museum was designed to display and house collections of various items of varying materials and of different eras.
8 - Gehry's Vitra Design Musuem is one of many buildings at the Vitra Museum grounds. Separate buildings have also been designed by Alvaro Siza, Nicholas Grimshaw, Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid at the Museum.

1 - Personal observation
2 - Words and Buildings, Adrian FORTY
3 - 1222 Lecture, Week 9
4 -
5 -
6 - 1222 Lecture, Week 9
7 -
8 -

Friday, September 25, 2009

Week 9 Studio Task - Exploring Interpretation for the Vitra Church

My interpretation of the current design in relation to a church is that each piece attached to the roofing represents a part of a fish, which combined makes a whole fish (relative to Gehry’s fascination with fish formation). For a church, I believe reference to fish is highly relevant because of its great reference in the bible.

Also, much like society and each individual’s views, the deconstructive-styled pieces and their placement symbolise the incoherency and lack of meaning things when seen alone; however when seen as a whole, the pieces appear combined in way that all the pieces make up one formation (i.e. a fish), and which in turn translates religious connotations of indirect harmony and combining into one.

- - -

Further interpreting the building:

The Main entrance roofing and its connected formation make up with tail fins of the fish. The curved end adjoining the entrance makes up the body (tail) of the fish. And the two angled roof formations represent the gills. The rectangular base with the cross roofing is the main area of the church and is what holds all the pieces together – it also represents the relationship to the fish, thus setting an example to followers.

Developing the Group Sketchup Model II

Expressing Ideas for the VDM Church

The concept I had for redesigning the Vitra Design Museum was to transform the function of the building into a white-washed concrete church. I intend to continue with the already developed design by Gehry, only to add to his style and to recreate function and interpretation. The idea of a church streamed from the cross shaped glass roofing along with the sense of purity in the white walls.

Being a church, I found it highly relevant to continue on with Gehry's intuitive direction of fish form inspiration and design - with the various meanings and connotations of fish in the Christian religion.

With the triangular roofing, I intend to curve into the shape of a head, following in Gehry’s footsteps of cutting up a fish (such as Frank Gehry's Fish sculpture in Barcelona). Whilst for the spiralling staircase, I would most probably emit that from the building and recycle it as my base inspiration for context. I intend to make it a single story with possible inclusions of internal balconies, opening it up to more flexibilty within space.

For the context of this church, as most of the design aspects are on the roofing, I would locate it on the edge of a green hillside with a spiralling road down to the main entrance of the church. This also provides a more natural feel to the crisp white exterior.

In terms of additions to the design, the most obvious is a cross just above the main entrance. I also, if time permits and skills allow, would like to make the square entrance incorporate water, giving it a sense of fluidity at first. If not a waterfall like edging, then pond like environment - to follow on with gehry's attempts to express fish and being fish-like. It also doubles up as a purification before entering the church.

Brainstorming possible re-envisions for the Vitra Design Museum

CONCEPT ONE: Vitra's Skaters Design Museum

Site context -
Cityscape (surrounded by tall block like structures)
Structural changes -
Enhance curvatures on roof planes as opposed to flat surfaces.
Installation of railings.

Function -
Roof becomes a skate park, with the museum underneath and underground
Materiality -
Concrete and steel, roof - fiberglass over plywood


Site context -
Suburban environment
Structural changes -
Placement of cross on the top of entrance roofing (square awning).
Cross-shaped glass roofing allows for majority of light source, directly above altar (also moved back into the structure).
Deletion of particular wall structures to allow of open plan space.
Door shaped in a shape inspired by fish
More Windows (maybe inspired by fish)

Function -
Place of worship
Space for chapel and church storage room

Materiality -
Same as current

After exporing my options and researching, I have decided to further develop my church concept

Vitra Image Comparison

Interior Comparison
Exterior Comparison

Developing the Group Sketchup Model I

Practice renders:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Background Research on the Vitra Design Museum

History of Vitra
• The Vitra Design Musuems serves as a place to document and interpret the history of industrial furniture.
• The museum publishes catalogues which accompany exhibitions as well as separately providing historical documentation.
• Vitra is a well known and respected manufacturer of office furniture in Europe.
• Willi Fehlbaum began his Swiss firm in 1934 as a manufacturer of shop fittings.
• In 1977, Willi’s son, Kolf, took over the company, where he then began collecting early samples of furniture. The designs he collected were by Eameses and Nelson, as well as other classic modern designers, jean Prouve and Alvar Alto.
• In 1987, Rolf met Alexander Von Vegesack, who was an equally passionate collector, from whom he acquired a large group of classic furniture from 1880-1945.
• Originally Rolf intended to house the collection in a building adjacent a new factory commissioned from the North American architect, Frank Gehry.
• The Gehry Factory was part of Vitra’s ambitious building program which involved commissioning; some would say collecting, major international architects to design new structures at Vitra’s main manufacturing site in Weil Am Rhein, Germany. These included Nicholas Grimshaw, Tadao Ando, Eva Jiricna, Zaha Hadid and Alvaro Siza.
• Gehry’s “collection building” was intended to be open to business customers. However as the collection grew and Alexander Von Vegesack was hired as a free-lance director, the building transformed into a museum, open to the public. This subsequently attracted considerable attention, not only because of the objects in the collection, but because it was Gehry’s first European building, a dynamic and complex structure which drew in part of German Expressionist and Czech Cubist architecture for inspiration.
• The Vitra consists of more than 1800 pieces of furniture, with a majority being chairs.

Philosophy behind the collection
• Although contemporaries viewed it as style-less and timeless anti-style, the collection was expressed as an ahistorical utopian, functional and geometrically pure modernist style codified in the 1920s.

• The vitra museum and its collection are different from other corporate collections and museums. Many manufacturers have collections of their own products, although they tend to be relatively small. Few companies place value on original objects and designs.
• Whilst is may be true that the Vitra Design Museum collection includes some examples of Vitra furniture, that the museum is located on the factory site and that it frequently lends its holdings to exhibitions and trade shows, its cannot in anyway be described as a collection of the company’s products. Indeed it is difficult to believe that any corporate collection in the world includes such a small percentage of its own firm’s productions.
• The Vitra Design Museum was built during economic expansion when design found expression in all manner of consumer products, artwork and private institution.
• Like most cultural organisations, the future of the Vitra Design Museum relies on its ability to expand its audience and fund its own operating budget by income, hence its publications program and production lines of miniature furniture and the commitment of the Vitra company itself
• Unlike most design museums, the Vitra Design Museum focuses almost entirely on furniture and has been more that once referred to as a chair museum.
• Although most of its new additions to the collection have appeared to be beyond modernism, its outlook still adheres to a modernist belief in the moral, even redemptive power of design and in the validity of furniture as an autonomous and deeply important area of work.

Gehry’s Style
• “ The fish shape got me into moving freely” (Gehry, 1990)
• “I learned how to make a building that was much more plastic and the first chance at that was the furniture museum at Vitra... I started to ude those shapes, but now I think the thing is to cut it back and see how little of that you can do and still get that sense of immediacy and movement”
• The Fish image, its form and appearance refined in drawing after drawing, changes from object with iconic identity to an innovative material application of a frame bearing a shimmering skin. And in exploring the theme, intuitively he learned how to make double curves in buildings.
• In the Bilbao Guggenheim, “fish” – truncated without head or tail, is transformed into leaf (or boat-like) shapes and applied in some of the side galleries – is endowed with a more elusive metaphorical quality which signifies fluidity and continuous motion.
“Whenever I’d draw something and I couldn’t finish the design, I’d draw the fish as a notation... that I want this to be better than just a dumb building. I want it to be more beautiful” (Gehry, 1985)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Case Study II.i: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

note: click images to view. Alternatively, the case study can be accessed as a PDF available from

Summarised text source: Frank Gehry: The Complete Works, fancesco dal co & kurt w. forster, Monacelli Press, 1998 USA