Squaring the Circle of Peace
A village of huts? A first glance – from a hot air balloon, for example – would leave precisely this impression: as though you’d be gliding across a few arbitrarily-placed huts in the Lower Bavarian province. A second glance – now through binoculars – would draw attention to five cubes, clearly also buildings. And it can be seen that each buildings is not merely haphazardly placed, but rather blend harmoniously into the landscape, each in their own special way. 5,000 square feet surround this strange ensemble, framed by the hills, meadows and forests in Bad Birnbach in Lower Bavaria. And the idea of traveling by hot air balloon may seem lifted completely out of thin air, but it is not that out of this world. Rather, it would fit perfectly for this enclave, which acts to have fallen out of time, a true jewel de Luxe: The Hofgut Hafnerleiten namely maintains a unique trinity of deceleration, nature and multi-award winning architecture.
In 1999 Erwin Rückerl, now referred to as “Gutsherr”, founded the first cooking school in Lower Bavaria. He was previously employed in the star-restaurant “Königshof” in Munich, perfected his penchant for Mediterranean cuisine at „La Pinta“ in Sardinia and now offers his creativity to cooking students at the “Hofgut”. He has taught and teaches how to usefully and tastefully process seasonal and regional food. A special connection with Italian cuisine is reflected in courses such as „Pasta secca“ or „antipasti“, and coffee lovers will enjoy the Barista seminars. The cooking classes and subsequent tastings take place in the specially-developed purpose-built “Brunnenhaus” (spring or fountain house) of the “Hofgut” estate. As always, the courses are considered the heart of Hofgut Hafnerleiten. However, even more soul is given to them by Erwin Rückerl and wife Anja Horn Rückerl thanks to a structural and conceptual expansion.
After all, the couple thought, simply sending well-satisfied and highly-relaxed guests right back home would be blasphemy! Which is why, from 2005, they therefore built so-called “Themenhäuser” (theme houses) in the garden for guests to spend the night after cooking courses or short breaks. Following the example of the Lower Bavarian countryside with its scattered settlements, these theme house cottages were also placed on the estate grounds. There are now ten of these cottages, all made of organic timber, and have become quite a highlight of the programme with their clear edges, gable roof, timber facade and roof, visually inspired by barn houses. There is the „Baumhaus“ (tree house) on stilts, the „Bootshaus“ (boat house) quasi in the lake or the „Gartenhaus” (garden house) surrounded by a greenery along with fountains, raised beet, a mattress of lawn and a fire pit. A simple, yet luxurious, retreat can be enjoyed, either alone or as a pair, where you can breathe, gather your senses, and indulge in the soothing effect of nature.
This approach works really well: on one each individual building is gently and subtly embedded in the existing topography, on the other hand it’s designed to provide maximum privacy (interrupted only by common nightly feasts at the big table in the main house). Another concept is made very clear: „We want to bring the countryside in to our homes; blur the inside and outside,“ explains Erwin Rückerl. How does this work? Among many features, the vast, ceiling-to-floor windows could be mentioned; or playing with the four elements fire, water, earth and air by have each individual cabin consists of only a combined living and bedroom of around 40 square meters. Last but not least, the couple relies fully on timber as a construction material. Oak, larch and white pine provide one with scenic contrasts.
Exclusive holiday homes in the “Rottaler Longhouse” style round off living concept. Especially intended for long stays, they have more living space and provide you with even more independence and privacy thanks to a kitchenette. These include a filled breakfast fridge, daily freshly ground coffee and bread rolls. The Finnish sauna, earth sauna and the relaxation rooms along with the garden with a pond are all also available for guests to use. The black wood of these new buildings is reminiscent of old, weathered barn houses with a timeless tarnish or kind of camouflage, according to architect Stefan Hanninger from the architecture office “Format Elf”. The houses virtually become one with the forest. „The new houses enter into dialogue with the landscape,“ describes Erwin Rückerl. The cabin you stay in, however, depends on the length of your stay!
What else contributes to your inevitable relaxation when treating yourself to a break at the “Hofgut”? (Time off is taken sometimes quite literally for a change, as mobile phones, laptops, TV or radio are not to make a peep!) Well, the “Wellness-Königsweg” path leads you to the “Entspannungswürfel” (relaxation cubes). Two of these are available specifically for massages and beauty treatments, the “Farbwürfel” (colour cube) serves as a quiet room, the fourth cube is for the saunas and the fifth is home to the corresponding relaxing area. Architecture and materials are combined almost intuitutveline into the landscape in a vividly cubic and clearly contemporary – a feature that once again, a jury has commended: this time the estate won the Bavarian TourismArchitecturePrize „artouro 2013”.
If it sounds like Bad Birnbach is your next destination: room rates start at 165 euros per person per night for three nights or more in the normal “Themenhaus” cottages. Half-board and three-course, Mediterranean dinner at the family dinner are included.
More info at www.hofgut.info