The former residential and reception building has been open to visitors since the spring
When Ludwig Erhard commissioned the Chancellor’s Bungalow in Bonn in 1963, he envisaged a building embodying cosmopolitanism and democracy, and which permitted encounters and the exchange of ideas and opinions.
These ideas were realised by Munich-based architect Sep Ruf who was renowned for his restrained and transparent style. And this included the interior design. Ruf opted for modern, minimalistic fixtures and furnishings with timeless pieces by Herman Miller and Knoll, and Sep Ruf Möbel which gave the 1,000 square metres of useable space an open and airy appearance.
Ruf was able to give the key to the two linked atrium buildings to Erhard in November 1964 and several German Chancellors lived in the private section over the subsequent 35 years. All of them, however, welcomed their guests in the reception area – monarchs, heads of government, opposition leaders and German and international stars passed through the spacious and impressive reception rooms and looked through the picture windows at the park of Palais Schaumburg. The former residence of the German Chancellor has been open to visitors taking part in guided tours and public events since the spring of 2009. In view of the fact that time and guests leave their traces, renovation and restoration work was essential before the opening. The furnishings presented a different problem. In the end, it was decided to leave some of the furnishings from the last occupancy phase although the aim was to restore much of the building to the original style of Erhard’s time as Chancellor.
Besides the actual renovation work, it was also necessary to conduct some extensive research. The textile side of the work was handled by the Bonn-based company of Wand & Raum GmbH. General Manager Ulrich Heesen and his team researched and then replicated the sofas, had Berber rugs made by hand exactly as they were and commissioned authentic copies of the light fittings.
“In an exact and exacting process, our team revised, supplemented and, wherever necessary, authentically recreated important parts of the original interior”, explains Heesen.
The results are obviously very impressive. “Public interest is very great. On 23 May, the 60th birthday of the German Constitution, around 6,000 visitors toured the Chancellor’s Bungalow”, says Georg Adlbert, General Manager of the Wüstenrot Foundation, which added the Bungalow to its Programme for the Maintenance and Revitalisation of Important Buildings in 2006.
“We included the Chancellor’s Bungalow in our Monument Programme because we aim to preserve special buildings, including modern ones”, explains Adlbert. “In this connection, the special attraction of the Chancellor’s Bungalow is its twin significance as an architectural and historical monument. Almost 40 years of political history was written in this building.”
The end came with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the German government’s move to Berlin. The last Chancellor to live in the Bungalow was Helmut Kohl who switched off the lights for the last time in 1999.
Photos 1, 2 and 3 © Wand & Raum GmbH