Architect Peter Haimerl has completed a striking restoration of a traditional farmhouse set in the middle of a Bavarian forest - a lush, mountainous region, in south-eastern Germany.
The serene and spectacularly beautiful landscapes encompass a vast area of woodland. For centuries, most of the inhabitants of this area lived in and from the forest and dwelled in typical agricultural homes, called Waldlerhouses. The small one or two-story buildings often had a cattle shed at the back and the lower level was usually made of local granite, while the upper level and the broad-eaved roof were made of wood. These were the two materials easily accessible to the local farmers. In recent decades, many of such abandoned houses have been falling into ruin.
Rotten beams, a half-collapsed roof, and some of the walls have caved in. Step by step, nature was taking over, what once belonged to her. The 19th-century farmhouse, standing at the edge of the forest in Arnbruck, was cleared out for demolition. When the news came to the attention of a Munich-based architect, Peter Haimerl, he decided to breathe new life into the run-down Waldlerhaus. Haimerl, famous for his Concert Hall in Blaibach, grew up in the Bavarian forest and has his own childhood memories associated with the traditional local buildings. The love of local architecture runs in his blood. Perhaps it is the combination of his personal story and architectural experience that has given this transformation such extraordinary power and freshness. The project saves an architectural tradition from oblivion by creating a visionary, uncompromising design.
The granite blocks at the base of the house were the inspiration for the 43 x 43 centimetre concrete bars of varying lengths that fill the gaps in the dilapidated building. They also provide support for the old wooden beams that the architect decided to leave intact. The decaying wooden structure was also enhanced with glass. Haimerl is a master of both invention and preservation. All elements that could be preserved were left in place, and so the old and the new intertwine, to create a raw and dynamic structure. The concrete blocks shape the volume of the house, but they also lend form and structure to the interior. They turn into a bath, a toilet bowl, a washbasin, and a kitchen countertop. Concrete is a versatile and powerful material. Its production and maintenance are relatively straightforward, and its texture becomes a key interior design feature. The design is bare, unadorned, with the human space separated from nature outside only by a thin, fluid line. The structure of the house seems to morph, to transform before our eyes.
What makes the project unique, is the fact that the house, which the architect calls 'The House for Thinkers', is not a commercial activity. The land has been leased free of charge from a local farmer for a period of 35 years. After that time the plot, including the building, will return to its original owner. It is a place of exchange and contemplation, open for retreats, seminars, and workshops. Artists, thinkers, and visitors are welcome to celebrate nature, reflect and create.
An expert in transformations and building in an existing context Haimerl has already saved more than just this one house in the Bavarian forest. Some other transformations by him are the Cilli House near Viechtach and another house in Arnbruck, in the vicinity of the Schedlberg House. The local community is receptive and open to new concepts that consolidate the town and strengthen local ties. The architect has also launched the Heimatloft initiative, which aims to lure young people from metropolitan areas back to the countryside. What is important to Haimerl is building in the existing fabric, the creative combination of tradition and the present A true master of weaving the existing fabric into a new setting, not only in architecture but also in social projects.
You can find more info on the rental of the Schedlberg House via Urlaubs Architektur, a website that lists inspiring holiday homes and hotels across Europe.