Blockhaus is a small structure designed by the German artist Thomas Schütte that was inaugurated on the Vitra Campus in June 2018. Serving as a shelter with a water fountain, it adheres to different principles than the architect designed buildings commissioned on the campus. Blockhaus is derived from a piece exhibited by Thomas Schütte in 2016.
Thomas Schütte’s Blockhaus is the latest addition to the Vitra Campus. Set on a slightly irregular hexagonal footprint, the walls angle outwards like a funnel instead of rising perpendicular from the ground. The six-sided structure supports a steeply inclined roof with a pronounced kink giving it a dynamic silhouette. Constructed from untreated Nordic pine, the cabin takes on a grey tone as it ages. The visually prominent roof is covered in titanium zinc shingles, the gleaming metal creates a stark contrast to the archaic log structure.
An opening on one side invites visitors to enter. Two simple benches are mounted along the interior walls. The central area contains a fountain made of fired clay, offering fresh water to cool off or enjoy a drink. Blockhaus thus assumes the role of a shelter or resting place, but it is also something else, more of an architectural object rather than a house. It resembles a blown-up model – one that can not only be used, but also viewed and studied. Similar to the form and materials used to build a cabin, its function reveals the diverse shifts and ambivalences in scale and perception.
Blockhaus differs from the existing buildings on the Vitra Campus. The structures commissioned from architects respond to a clearly formulated brief as well as a specific site and utilise contemporary materials and technologies. Blockhaus is an object derived from a 1:10-scale model exhibited by Thomas Schütte in 2016 at the Galerie Konrad Fischer in Düsseldorf. Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman Emeritus of Vitra, saw the model and asked the artist if he could imagine a full-scale realisation on the Vitra Campus.
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