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Hölderlin House in Lauffen am Neckar, VON M, Photo: Zooey Braun

A Look into the Past: Hölderlin House in Lauffen am Neckar

Whether Friedrich Hölderlin was actually born in this house-cum-museum has not been proved. His grandfather and father were administrators of the neighbouring monastery, whose wall delimits the lot to the west. The building now called Hölderlin’s birthplace was home to his aunts. One thing is certain: as a young widow, his mother moved there with her three children two years after the birth of the lyric poet, and little Friedrich spent his early childhood there until 1774.

The baroque residence with a built-on barn has been meticulously renovated by Von M Architekten; the ensemble has been expanded by three new edifices. Their materials − steel and exposed concrete − significantly distinguish the new structures from the existing ones and locate them firmly in the present. To the south, a small technical building continues the building line. The vertical texture of its exposed-concrete façade will work to conceal any dirt that accumulates over time due to the building’s position directly by the road. To the north, a three-storey building with a stairway and elevator takes up the cubature of the old barn. West of this, another structure, low with one storey, has been erected: it will be a venue for temporary exhibitions and events. Its entire width opens onto the inner courtyard, whose midpoint is formed by a newly planted linden.

The entrance to the museum is located in the former barn. Visitors reach it directly via the old access road and yard, or via a barrier-free ramp. The access leads eastwards, past the building and to the new stairway. The lobby, which is found in the barn of the existing ensemble, features remains of the monastery wall from 1560. The false ceilings have been opened up all the way to the roof truss. Two catwalks of corten steel cross the open space and lead up from the stairway to the living area. Hölderlin’s characteristic neologisms hang from the ceiling in neon script and accompany visitors on their way to the exhibition in the renovated residence.

In order to enable visitors to visualize the past of the house as concretely as possible, the planners have left exposed the various layers of the coverings on selected walls. A guidance and orientation system in the form of lectern-like stands allow the historically protected building to remain, for the most part, undisturbed. Four living spaces present the exhibition devoted to Hölderlin as both poet and personality. Visitors are intended “to look not at the poet, but rather from inside him”. This is why the curators and exhibition designers let the lyricist express himself in his own letters and portray his unsettled character by means of double-sided, walkable sets.

Further Information:

construction measurement, construction-historic inspection, planning LPH 1-3: strebewerk Architekten

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