In the midst of a Bavarian forest in Germany, a traditional farmhouse – or ‘Waidlerhaus’ – has undergone a striking restoration by Munich-based architect Peter Haimerl.
The architect Peter Haimerl revives houses for thinkers in the Bavarian forest, the Schedlberg houses. On the Schedlberg nearby Arnbruck, there is an old house. It’s name giving to the other houses. "For a long time there were farmers. For a long time there was no one. Soon they will be temporary houses for thinkers."
On the Schedlberg forester’s houses
The traditional farmhouses of the Bavarian forest, with their strong character, are embedded in the harsh, east Bavarian landscape. Only a few still exist today. As symbols from an older, less wealthy era, that people wanted to forget about, most of them were demolished. A small number survived in open-air-museums.
Others still were forgotten about and left to their own and decay.
The secret of decay
The house once used by the senior farmers was abandoned in 1963. The log house with its granite basement survived as a ruin. When it fell into disuse, the inhabitants built a new home and left it, close to decay. Cows and sheep, grazing on the adjacent meadow, used it as shelter, funguses and ferns sprawled. The living area alone remained largely untouched, the outside wall still erect, holding the ridge purlin. The house was on the verge of collapse. It was light, fragile, between nature and culture.
More soil and forest than architecture. It was about to disappear.
Continue the narrative
There is a narrative that needs to be continued, before the digger is brought to bear. House and place are continued with new materials and contrasts, without refurbishing the secret of decay away. House and place are continuously entwined, the age of the house embraced, not hidden. Mossy, granite bars, lying right outside the front door, were converted into concrete bars and implemented into the building where needed, supporting the weathered, decayed wood. In the east and south they complement the wood, in the north they seem to fly, and in the east they crash into each other, get freed, pile up, rearrange. The interlocking of bars and decks transforms the structure into sculpture, the house into art. Windows, old and new, frame the outside world. The three bedroom house offers the true essentials: oven, stove, table, bed, and Wi-Fi.
The owner of the (and the farm adjacent) didn’t agree to selling the ruin, not wanting strangers to stay too long. The high expenditure and low possibility for profit made it worthless to many. Once architecture is no longer an object for investment it loses its meaning to many. Year by year and day by day it becomes a bit more the possession of the farmer, that drives investors away. It doesn’t get more with time, it gets less. It is essential to see the building for what it is now, rather than what it is worth later. Now the Schedlberg is contemplative architecture. It invites you in for seminars, retreat, reflection. Visitors don’t wear the house down with their presence – they recharge it. The house gets more valuable with each visitor. In 30 years of endowed lease the house funds its own preservation as a piece of art." — Jutta Görlich