Her first large-scale completed commission, 1990’s Vitra fire station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, was nearly as uncompromising as her earlier designs. Twenty-eight years later, it’s still a remarkable building – all raw concrete, glass and diagonal lines. The fact that after a year it became an exhibition space (prompted by a change in regulations) does nothing to take away from its wild yet simultaneously constructed beauty.
Other projects followed, like the Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck and Leipzig’s BMW Administration Building – the latter bringing the mechanical process into the office environment as the production line flows above workers sat at desks and computers.
From the early 2000s her buildings – and her practice – got bigger, taking on large scale projects in places as far-flung as Zaragoza, Seoul and Glasgow, each one more fantastic than the last. One of her most loved buildings is the Phaeno Science Centre in Leipzig, Germany, a huge concrete slab raised on 10 giant columns, each of which contains a shop, entrance or cafe.
Jonathan Bell again: “The Phaeno is quite animal-like – almost like a prehistoric creature. It’s organic architecture, but it’s solid, too. And it shows just how good she was working with concrete.”