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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

How Is LFone Faring?

Landesgartenschau—aka Landscape Formation One (LFone)—is a flower pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid for Weil am Rhein, Germany, the same town that is home to her first built work, Vitra's Fire Station. When LFone was completed in 1999 it looked something like this:


[Photography © Hélène Binet | image source]

In 2007 I posted a photo from Flickr user "thegoatisbad," pointing out that LFone had "seen better days":
if this is the building now...

Having visited the pavilion a couple weeks ago I can say things have gotten both better and worse for LFone. The approach clearly signals that something is happening:

Landesgartenschau

For the summer (at least) the grounds abutting the building are being used for a festival with food kiosks placed around a central seating area and stage for musical performances.

Landesgartenschau

As can be seen above and below, the building itself appears to be in adequate condition, better than the seen-better-days photo from five years ago. A June 2013 article at Badische Zeitung appears to say (via Google Translate) that: "Two years ago it was believed at the Town Hall and the Garden Festival Society to have problems with the water under control: 770 meters wall tops were sealed with a special process, the concrete impregnated."

Landesgartenschau

The landscaping adjacent to the building is also in good shape, perhaps stemming from the fact the plants are succulents (or appear to be, to my untrained eye):

Landesgartenschau

It also appears that the tagging covering the half-pipe-like slope at one end of the building has given way to serving as a canvas for children's chalk drawings:

Landesgartenschau

So given that the building won't be falling down anytime soon, and the grounds around it (that aren't covered with trucks and the like) are faring well, then the big issue is what exactly is the building doing? Is it merely serving as a backdrop for outdoor festivals? Is it a rental space for parties (some tables and chairs were awkwardly squeezed inside when I was there, but the doors were locked)? Is it a visitor center, a trailhead for the adjacent nature preserve (a small visitor center with an LFone brochure, among others, was stuffed into a small space, also locked)?

Landesgartenschau

It's not really clear what purpose the building is serving these days, and therefore it's up to Weil am Rhein to find something that is appropriate for the building while enabling the town to pay for its continued maintenance. Not surprisingly, it doesn't work as a backdrop for summer festivals. If anything, its landscraper-like design and original function point to something aligned with the appreciation of nature unspoiled by commercial presence.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for this really interesting update. LFOne is looking great although I did find the weather and slightly decayed condition I found it in 2 years ago rather lovely also. It was not as bad as when you posted 5 years ago. At that time it was home to TrUZ Tri-national Environment Agency who clearly did not have the same levels of financing available to them as Vitra where the slightly older Fire Station was faring much better due to the periodic silicone treatments and careful cleaning. I was able to gain access and have a look around at that time. You can see something of how it looked then in this video I made.

    http://youtu.be/SynArUPt9Hg

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  2. According to its German Wikipedia article the building is used for the tri-national environmental organisation TRUZ, a local center for nature protection and environment. It contains exhibitions halls and offices.
    Currently they plan to reconstruct FLone for power savings and to fix some damages at the concrete.

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  3. It is such a shame when good buildings start to demolish. One would think that a Great Architect such as Zaha would make more practical and creative solutions about the buildings sustainability. Water is always a problem and must be thought of on time. I feel that the perfection Of Architectural detail is forgotten lately, and we must be constantly reminded of it.

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  4. I don't see the "great architect" with Hadid, as much as sculptor in the manner of Gehry. They plop down a finished object and then try to justify it in some way to site.
    The commenter above is right to question why there aren't more practical and creative solutions as architecture would/should do -- as if this isn't obvious regarding water in that climate. The implication is of waste, a starchitect building involves many extra hidden expenses down the road, a secondary huge budget in oversight and solutions (like impregnating the architecture with silicone seriously, no one did that before using it for the purpose implied? And now it is going to be reconstructed for power savings and repairs to concrete? ) as well to keep these buildings after less than a decade going.
    What connects her mid scale works, an early 90s housing project in Berlin, a Vitra fire house, now the American Univ. campus in Beirut, to name a few I've seen, is that they don't take into consideration architecture function, the society is is in, commerce especially, and certainly not the chances for a local workmen/skillset/budgeting to repair what will occur. It's definitely difficult to situate LFOne in the reality of that region, but it's not taking a specialist to figure out as those photos show it, there will be over time different users occupying it, with different needs, with such traffic associated to such festivals etc. Not some pristine ultra-rich nature reserve.
    The latest, at AUB, only reinforces the sculpture-first feeling. A whole range of issues with the ocean/sun extreme exposure daily on the materials, or a philosophy regarding how the glass facade will manage with air conditioning and open windows will work. Most importantly, the meaning of the site, historically and in terms of a future sense, is just dismissed without thought. It had served as the last, calm planned island right on the Sea but outside of the developer-madness of Beirut. A beautiful, full island walled-in campus has an overall maintained set of original classical 19th century buildings, a unity of nature, materials and even using the steep slopes to the sea, while keeping to a layout for a classical American campus. It is now interrupted at a crowded point by a very soon-to-be-dated Hadid building, her signature imposed large, ignoring all, that pushed its way in to get the best view of the ocean. And the workmanship there, chances are it is better or worse than Germany? So different uses, different neds, and requiring updating already after a few years. Rather than just develop something that complements the conditions that exist in these societies, budget realities and site-meanings. Like Gehry, she should just stick to her strength designing corporate baubles disguised as museums and leave the needs of more articulate sites and conditions alone.

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