Residential Complex - Klostergarten Lehel Munich - Germany
The special aura exuded by historical construction elements can be used to a revaluate and legitimize new buildings. In a new facade, historical fragments of a rundown cloisters complex serve as an unsettling yet enriching element.
The refurbishment of the St.Anna Monastery in the Munich district of Lehel was not financially feasible for the Franciscan monks. In addition, their community, which had shrunken from 120 to 15 monks needed much less space than was offered by the building complex, built in 1910 and partially renovated in 1948.
They thus decided to sell 3,900 of the facility’s 6,000 square meters to Bayerische Hausbau, which in 2006 commissioned Hild und K Architekten to erect a new building with thirty-two apartments in the place of the former refectory and student wing.
The result is confusing: at first glance it seems as if one of the monastery’s existing buildings were merely renovated. The architects not only reused five of the original neo-Romanesque window arches, but also drew inspiration from some of the central design elements of the old ensemble. A certain sense of historicity is thus achieved - without reconstructing the original.
Although the monastery buildings stood under historical preservation, only one listed façade and an Art Nouveau staircase were preserved; the investor insisted on demolishment, as it was too expensive to redevelop the existing buildings for the planned residential use. Ultimately it was the architectural concept of an “oldnew” building that persuaded the conservation authority to allow the demolition at all. Facing the monastery gardens, Hild und K integrated the five windows along with their column-supported arches from the old building into the façade of the new six-story construction. All five of the arched windows were previously on the ground floor of the original building; now they form a diagonal up to the fifth floor. This reference creates a moment of alienation; Andreas Hild refers to it as a “fetish” that “transfers a bit of magic onto the new”.
In the interior - the “material recycling” of the five-meter-high arched windows resulted in high halls; this irregularity then led to the design of split-level units. The arches were also adapted in the new adjacent wing where the form is present as a negative imprint in the plaster. Geometric reliefs divide the façade: the new windows are embellished with French balconies.
The design of both parts of the building is clearly contemporary, while referencing styles of past eras -similar to the architecture from Munich’s postwar reconstruction period in 1950s. With the transplantation and adaptation of the old into the new at Klostergarten Lehel, Hild und K Architekten have articulated a new perspective on the conversion and redesign of existing buildings.