Peter Haimerl breathes new life into old farmhouses. In this way, the architect saves and preservers a piece of Bavarian identity
Architect Peter Haimerl
Impressive buildings, which reflect the former life of their rural inhabitants and still tell of their history today: Architect Peter Haimerl has made it his mission to breathe new life into traditional farmhouses in the Bavarian Forest – and thus to preserve a piece of Bavarian identity.
He renovates buildings of character with their historic external facades, small windows and steep roofs – and rents them to guests as holiday accommodation, such as the Haus am Schedlberg near Arnbruck: “For me it is important to capture the history and the character of the house and to bring these to life using modern, minimalist means,” explains Haimerl.
Farmhouses: No two are alike
The Bavarian Forest is famous for its architectural style. Until 50 years ago, many small farmers in the region lived in farmhouses that were both utterly charming and very high quality. Since then, however, most of these traditional buildings have been left empty and derelict.
Peter Haimerl is originally from Viechtach in the Bavarian Forest. Even as a young boy, this local traditionalist loved the old farmhouses – including his current project, close to where he grew up.
“As a child I decided that somehow I had to preserve this farm and carry it forward. Thanks to my architectural studies I have been able to make this dream come true”, he says with enthusiasm.
The successful architect has left the external facade untouched. Even if it has age spots and cracks – Haimerl believes the history of the building must still be visible. He tries to keep as much of the original wood and stone as possible.
His wife, Jutta Görlich, is always at his side. As an artist, she advises him and seeks out the histories of the houses and their locations. Throughout the building process, she works with photographer Edward Beierle to illustrate the stories of the houses and presents them in exceptional displays – mostly as part of the architecture itself.
Haimerl combines the old facades and rooms with modern elements: He puts in concrete walls, making the farmhouses habitable once more. “We may make relatively radical changes to the substance, but always with a sensitive eye for detail,” according to Haimerl.
And it is precisely these details that make the farmhouses in the Bavarian Forest so distinctive. Each building is a one-off that fits perfectly into the landscape.
Preserving the original by combining it with the new is not something that Peter Haimerl sees as a contradiction in terms. The desire to be modern is in itself traditional: “After all, it’s the case that people in times gone by aimed to build modern structures that matched the spirit of their age.”
The fact that people have always worked to contemporary standards is therefore a tradition in Peter Haimerl’s view – and that is what he wishes to continue.
Houses tell family histories
By bringing farmhouses back to life, Peter Haimerl is preserving many family histories. His guests get to sense and experience these too. “The history manifests itself everywhere: in the aura of the house, in the smells, in the colours,” the architect explains.
He feels that the personality and the character of the owners is imprinted on the houses. The buildings still carry the names of their former inhabitants – such as Peter Haimerl’s Haus “Birg mich, Cilli”. The name is derived from the last farmer to live there, Cilli Sigl.
He is convinced that there are many strong places in the Bavarian Forest – in the sense of the Genius Loci (protective spirits). This aura is reinforced by particular buildings. He hopes his guests will immerse themselves in these places by allowing the house to exert its influence on them.
Peter Haimerl describes it as follows: “If I compare a place or a house with a concert, then it’s just the music itself that our guests should soak up.”
More about Peter's work at peterhaimerl.com (only in German)
... from Peter
Pfingstritt in Bad Kötzting
I recommend visitors to experience the Bad Kötzting Whit Ride. There, the riders on their decorated horses move from Bad Kötzting to Steinbühl. The parade is one of the oldest customs in Bavaria.
Schönau near Viechtach
The area around Schönau near Viechtach is also beautiful – there visitors can experience the Bavarian Forest at its purest. The landscape and the atmosphere are unique.
Concdert Hall in Blaibach
In Blaibach's "Konzerthaus", visitors see the pictures of my wife. There are several large-format pictures – three by four metres – hanging around the concert hall I designed. They form another façade. My wife thus tells the history of the place and transforms it: people take pictures with them in their minds and the residents recognise themselves in them because they recognise the houses or the places where the pictures were taken.