The building was designed as the residence of the Chancellor and provided a formal space for small events and meetings. The Chancellor’s Bungalow forms a functional unit with the Villa Hammerschmidt and the Palais Schaumburg. While Neoclassical Villa Hammerschmidt (1867) has been the official residence of the German Presidents since 1950 and the second domicile of the German President since 1994 the Neoclassical Palais Schaumburg (1860) has been the official residence of the German Chancellor since 1949 and the second domicile since 1999. The buildings are situated in a park along the Rhine River. The Chancellor’s Bungalow’s design focused on modernity in this context.
Plan Scheme & Construction
The Chancellor’s Bungalow consists of two quadratic, single-story atrium houses under a flat, cantilevered roof. The larger and high-level part of the building was planned for official representation matters and the smaller part comprised the living space of the Chancellor. The building is characterized by fully glazed, transparent walls. Only the private living space was obstructed by partial brick walls. The floor plan of the representative area is open and flexible. Openness and transparency, basic forms and noble materiality define the modern design.
The load-bearing construction consists of a steel skeleton system. The roof is constructed of trapezoidal sheet metal. The walls are brick-laid and some timber inside walls are moveable. Italian Travertine was used for the flooring inside and outside. Wall panels are composed of Palisander and the cladding of the ceiling is made of Brazilian Pine.
The modern steel-frame construction allows a flexible floor plan and adjustment to different requirements in the representative part of the bungalow. One reason for the pronounced modern structure and design of the building is the ambition to distinguish the open and human-oriented architecture of the democracy of the young Federal Republic from the massive and oppressive architecture of the National Socialist Regime.
The bungalow is situated in an extensive park on the banks of the Rhine River. A part of the area next to the building is screed by a wall of slate from the Eiffel region and was used as access yard. The existing park was altered by landscape architect Hermann Mattern. The glass-walls of the Bungalow establish a very close relation between architecture and landscape. The garden next to the building is designed accordingly. Sculptures from artists such as Fritz Koenig and Paul Dierkes in the garden complete the ensemble.
The facade of the representative part of the building consists mostly of floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The private living space is enclosed by screens of brick walls, yet its façade openings such as windows and doors are also fully transparent. The load-bearing props of the steel frame construction are inside the building and mostly hidden. The roof seems to hover above the building and holds together the two parts of the bungalow.
Selected materials such as Travertine or Palisander give a noble feature to the open and transparent bungalow. Color and surfaces of the materials characterize the design. Pieces of Art have been selected by Architect Sep Ruf and have been part of the configuration. The furniture came from the Herman Miller Collection and comprised chairs and sofas designed by Charles and Ray Eames. In addition, the „Time-Life Chair“, which was styled for the new Time-Life Building in New York, was applied.
The names of the German Chancellors Ludwig Erhard, Hans-Georg Kiesinger, Willy Brandt, Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl und Gerhard Schröder are more or less associated with the building. The German Chancellors Ludwig Erhard, Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, Helmut Schmidt, and Helmut Kohl used the Bungalow and customized it to their own ideas, Willy Brandt und Gerhard Schröder did not live there.
The modern design of the Bungalow serves as document for democracy and cosmopolitanism of the young German Federal Republic. Openness, lightness and elegance are regarded as elements of democratic architecture. The idea of modernity, democracy and makeshift is embodied in this noble and plain architecture which expresses serenity and grandeur. The general public found the architecture quite controversial, but the criticism from experts on national and international level were very positive.
In 1966, after Kurt-Georg Kiesinger’s move into the residence, the private living space was redesigned with the involvement of interior designer Herta-Maria Witzemann. The cladding of the ceiling with plasterboard and white coating of the timber built-in cupboards were implemented during the re-design.
During the “German Autumn” in 1977, in order to provide safeguarding against the terrorists of “Red Army Fraction”(RAF) a bullet-proof glass wall in the direction of Rhine River was implemented with the involvement of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
From 1982 on, once Chancellor Helmut Kohl settled in the residence, the interior of the representative area was renovated with silk wall coverings on the brick walls and replacement of the airy furniture with massive and heavy ones.
Today the Chancellors Bungalow serves as museum and offers space for several activities such as lectures and debates, discussion with contemporary witnesses or musical events.The Chancellors Bungalow has been comprehensively revitalized by the Wüstenrot Foundation in the years 2006-2009 and is in very good condition. Basis for the revitalization work was a detailed and profound analysis of the technical, historical and aesthetical aspects of the building. The main renovation work was to repair the roof and other parts of the building, to expose the surfaces of wooden and brick walls and to rebuild the technical installation. It was a special challenge to bring back the original architectural impact and to show the historical relevance of the place. At the same time, some alterations of the residents have been conserved to keep the contemporary history alive. Therefore the reshaping of the private living space by Herta-Maria Witzemann and the alterations in the representative area during the government of Helmut Kohl have been preserved. Long-term systematically conservation and maintenance were part of the revitalization.