Herzog & De Meuron
Jacques Herzog (1950) and Pierre Meuron (1950) both went to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology “ETH” in Zurich. Since the 1990’s until today, they are professors at ETH in Zurich as well as at Harvard University Graduate School of design. They have both received an Architectural Nobel price.
Herzog & De Meuron’s work can be roughly describe in several adjectives- minimalism and ornament, cosmetic and structural, image and body. Their designs have a common and similar prospective on nature, which makes them carry out a simplicity of their shapes that are usually described as a shape of a box. A shape of a box consists of a flat roof and large windows, which at the same time characterized their prototype buildings. Both architects carry out an “organic” philosophy, which means that their buildings are design to fit its natural surroundings.
Their engagement of expressing themselves through materiality is something that can be seen and admired through all their projects. They established themselves at the centre of architectural colloquy just by their artistic works and their process of organising and collecting materials at the heart of their work. Their techniques have changed from the purist simplicity of rectangular forms to more complex and dynamic geometries through out the years. It is said that their success can be associated to their skills in releasing unfamiliar or unknown bonds by utilizing innovative materials. Herzog and De Meuron collaborate with different artists on each and every of their architectural projects.
After constructing Beijing National Stadium they used a phrase that strongly characterizes them: “There should be many ways of perceiving a building” 1after calling their new project “The Bird’s Nest”. Herzog & De Meuron often cite Joseph Beuys as “an enduring artistic inspiration” of their work. Their most known project is probably the Tate Modern in London.
One of their recent projects is the VitraHaus located in Weil am Rhein, Germany; it is composed of a fifteen meter high building formed by twelve houses, trying to balance in a three dimensional composition. The picture behind the design hooks two themes. These are, the typical composition of a house drawn when we are kids and the staked volumes. VitraHaus primary purpose was to display Vitra’s furniture in a building that you would feel as if they where in your own house. For that reason the interiors are similar to a residential setting as well as the architecture being done in a domestic scale; interiors are welcoming and comfortable.
Walls on the outside are glazed with charcoal colour stucco so that they merge with the setting. While the wooden floor made out of a light colour wooden plank makes the five main buildings that hold the rest of the buildings be distinguished from beginning to end. The interior has an obvious organic approach, highlighting Herzog & De Meuron style; “The staircases are integrated in an unrestrained twirling organic volume that symbolically unfolds itself throughout the various levels of the building in a worm-like manner”. 2
The orientation of the each building is arranged in a different way to get the best views not only while you sit in front of their large windows, but also through out the walks around such. Herzog & De Meuron created the building with such of a fascinating and reserved perspective towards its surrounding nature. “During the day one can gaze from the VitraHaus outwards while when the night falls the illuminated interior allows for uninterrupted views from the exterior into the interior.”2
Herzog & De Meuron create their project on sketches on paper rather than by computer, they use traditional techniques and carry on the design process at all times and in any place. Their sketches are thought to be works of art by both, for that reason they exhibit and sell them.
1 archINFORM, “National Stadium (Olympic Stadium)”, 2005, http://eng.archinform.net/projekte/12579.htm
2 yatzer, “ VitraHaus by Herzog De Meuron”, 24 Feb 2010, http://www.yatzer.com/2139_vitrahaus_by_herzog_+_de_meuron
Herzog+de meuron: natural history by Jacques Herzog, Philip Uvsprung. Pg. 283