Author : Tim Münnich

University : Hochschule Darmstadt, University of applied science, fba Architektur

Status : MArch, 2013

Title : Eden  |  Villa with studio_Mathildenhöhe Darmstadt

Between 1901 and 1914 Mathildenhöhe has been developed in 4 phases. In the history of building and art, this system has a very high priority and represents a time of reform and a new way of thinking so called; the dawn of the modern. It is the cultural center of Germany where regular exhibits, tours, festivals and events take place. A place where history is presently rich, interaction within the public realm is common and collaboration more often embraced…

The property is situated between Prinz-Christiansweg in the North, and Erbacher-Strasse in the South.  In the North, it has a view of the old master houses and of the Mathildenhöhe. To the South, the city urban fabric extends its 4 storey building heights and gradually divides into subdivided blocks. To the West and the East, the property happens to border on post-war constructions. In contrast, the buildings in the south are no higher than 11 meters, meaning this lack of density initiates a grand entrance into the villa…

In regards to the urbanism within this city, the northern portion was developed at the beginning of the 20th century; remaining partially preserved and unchangeable. Furthermore, seven buildings are still existing: custom living houses – by architect Joseph Maria Olbrich, the wedding tower and the exhibition hall. Being a part of the Mathildenhöhe, they are listed cultural heritage of Darmstadt. Accommodating and working with these preserved archi-facts was a challenge that not only embraces architecture, the city, but the rich context of the built environment.

This grid-like development is programmed to serve work/live spaces for the creative city dwellers, yet functions in alternative ways. Situated across the artist houses’, the property serves as a primary connection to the southern part of the city. It is considered as agateway to the Mathildenhöhe. This public friendly/open courtyard vertically extends to the north, blurring the lines between public/private, and more importantly establishing a walkable link. This spatial organization hopes to make a noble gesture in how we think and re-design our cities. Bringing a more public/interactive perspective in the surrounding environment, an important role in the process of historical preservation + cultural sustainment + public space extension.

The villa with studio should become a place of open space development, yet providing the artist occupants’ with noiseless spaces, accommodating their lifestyle and individuality. The artist colony were mostly designed by architects J.M.Olbrich, P. Behrens and A. Müller and should expand to the south by creating a natural connection with the city of Darmstadt. This means the building complex acts as a figurehead, inviting the visitor/observer to a special place. The villa and the atelier (workshop/studio) should not act separately but as a single ensemble.