Two years ago, in preparation for a green charrette for Fire Station 37, I was tasked with researching ‘green’ precedents. Unfortunately, most of the projects I found in the states left a lot to be desired.
From travelling during my internship abroad, I was already familiar with a few interesting projects (Hadid @ Vitra, Sauerbruch + Hutton @ Berlin) – and knew that there were probably others worth looking into. Out of that research came a proposal for the Deborah J. Norden Fund which didn’t win, but did earn a wonderful thank you note and a reassurance I could find funding for such a great topic. What follows are some of the better examples utilizing concrete – discovered through that process. I would also like to point out that several of these projects were awarded through competitions. Having been on both sides of RFQs and competitions, I have a strong preference for the latter – they almost alway result in better projects while weeding out the highly qualified mediocre designers that desecrate our built landscape.
architect: Neutelings Riedijk
Apparatus bay, bunks, canteen, offices and training areas are viewed as an exercise in stacking. A reflecting pool on the roof allows for contemplative downtime, collects rainwater for fire suppression and is a phenomenal lens into surrounding living spaces. The exterior is pre-cast concrete panels finished to look like tire treads, a nod to the large ring-road adjacent to the fire station. The hidden aspect of the roof pond add a lot to an otherwise subtle project.
architect: Beat Consoni
location: Abtwil (CH)
A concrete bunker straddles the divide between unstructured banal commercial buildings and a residential zone. The building seems to play off this by offering neutral faces to the public. However, in an attempt to create a sense of community, a youth facility and multi-purpose rooms are available to the public. It must be great to always depend on such fine concrete work.
location: Sattiens (AT)
year completed: 2006
Baucombinat’s fire station is compact, durable – materials selected are meant to last. Casework is ash, a nod to the handles of firefighting tools. Offices and training areas are above the apparatus bay. For a fire station, the facility is surprisingly transparent.
architect: Reinhard Drexel
location: Hohenems (AT)
year completed: 2001
This project is another delight for me. The hose tower wall becoming the apparatus bay canopy adds a surprisingly delicate touch to an otherwise compact and brutalist composition.
architect: Stefan Baader
location: Winterthur (CH)
The building is mostly CIP concrete with three sections: the one-story apparatus bay, living quarters and three-story offices. The volume plays off a three-story metalworking school with one-story workshops adjacent to the site. The graphics are by Christopher Hunziker – the F refers to feuerwehr (fire station), 118 is the emergency number in Switzerland.
architect: Markus Thurnher
location: Feldkirch (AT)
year completed: 2000
Situated adjacent to a monastery, this fire station does an excellent job of playing off the asceticism of monastic life. For a touch of frivolity the architect has inserted angled apparatus bays, allowing the play of light and shadow. The austerity of the project allows an otherwise utilitarian structure to blend within a difficult context.
location: Linz-Poestlingberg (AT)
year completed: 2006
Poestlingberg overlooks Linz and is a frequent destination for visitors. The fire station is an addition to a converted Post (post office). The apparatus bay, which is simply stunning, fronts a major thoroughfare and is highly visible. Wardrobes and accessory functions are tucked below the apparatus bay and receive illumination and ventilation from a continuous strip of windows. Radio room and administration spaces are housed in the renovated Post. If only all public work could be so amazing… And yes, this one is my favorite aus beton.