Álvaro-Siza-Promenade

The Álvaro-Siza-Promenade invites visitors to stroll along a unique walkway in the public area of the Vitra Campus, with various stations leading from the VitraHaus to the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid.

Álvaro-Siza-Promenade
The concept of ‘A day at Vitra’ currently consists of three important building blocks: visiting exhibitions at the Vitra Design Museum, viewing the spectacular buildings on the Campus and touring the VitraHaus.
The opening of the VitraHaus in 2010 put the public focal point in the northern section of the grounds while the factory building by SANAA, situated within the company premises, has continued to raise production capacities since its official dedication in 2012.
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany
A second public focal point is to be established in the future around the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid (1993), a Vitra Campus icon and long-time venue for special exhibitions and events. From the very start, the direct path to this building proceeded along the central axis of the Campus and hence straight through the company premises, though delivery traffic has meanwhile been redirected to an area further to the east.
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germania
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany
For the long term, however, this arrangement for visitor access to the Fire Station was unsatisfactory, prompting the idea of creating a pedestrian connection between the Fire Station and the VitraHaus independent of the fenced-off production areas. Such a solution became all the more urgent in light of future plans to establish a city-side entrance to the Vitra grounds. Visitors arriving from Basel by tram will then have direct access to the Fire Station and from here – unimpeded by the flow of factory traffic – can continue along to the VitraHaus and Museum.
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germania
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany

The so-called Álvaro-Siza-Promenade occupies a length of 500 metres. It consists of an asphalt pathway bounded by two-metre-high hornbeam hedges. In some parts, the hedges flank the path in a linear arrangement while other sections widen and open up to create green spaces. Siza chose hedges to illustrate the changing of the seasons. These are paired with hard, unchanging materials, as can be found in the earlier factory building by Siza: Dutch brick and Portuguese granite. The repertoire of forms and materials is reduced to a small number of elements.

The pathway is syncopated with ‘episodes’ – distinctive sequential settings that offer a variety of unique spatial experiences. In the first phase of development, these include an S-shaped common area framed by hedges, the Vitra Slide Tower by Carsten Höller and an archaic-looking double chamber formed from interpenetrating brick and granite walls. The promenade is like a pilgrimage route marked by multiple stations, simultaneously evoking English gardens with its various ‘follies’. With the individual architecturally expressed elements, Siza counters the Romantic idea of an indistinguishable melding of nature and architecture – landscape and geometry follow their own laws but, as is typical of Siza’s work, find their way to a state of balance on a higher level.

Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germania
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany
The Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, illuminated at night by lighting which was likewise designed by Siza begins with a small asphalted plaza across from the west corner of the VitraHaus, bounded by blocks of granite that serve as benches. Proceeding from this spot at a right angle, the path initially runs parallel to the parking lot which is screened off on by a two-metre-high hornbeam hedge while the other side offers wide views; here the promenade directly borders the Campus meadow and passes by Renzo Piano’s miniature house ‘Diogene’.
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germania
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany

In front of Siza’s 1994 factory building, the pathway makes a slight turn to the left where an S-shaped structure of hedges and granite benches invites visitors to make a brief stop before veering to the right to cross the connecting path between the employee parking lot and the Siza factory building and continue in a wide arc toward the Weil-Haltingen roadway, which forms the western border of the company premises.

The path passes by the Vitra Slide Tower by Carsten Höller and through the space between the street, made to appear more distant by the intervening hedge, and the two corners of the Siza factory building, leading into an exterior space enclosed on three sides by a high wall that acts as the central joint of the promenade. A narrow gate-like break in the southern corner of the wall opens up to a further space framed by two angled granite walls and feeds into the last section of the promenade, which – widening from three to ten metres and framed on both sides by strips of granite – runs parallel to the west side of the Siza building and leads to the Fire Station by Zaha Hadid. The promenade ends in another small plaza, framed by blocks of granite and connected to the main axis of the Campus, which could also provide a future point of access for the planned city-side entrance to the Campus.

Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germania
Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany

Álvaro-Siza-Promenade, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Architect : Álvaro Siza

Latest on News

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram