Competition Bad Heilbrunn

3rd Prize

Bad Heilbrunn - place and scene

The village is situated in one of the most beautiful places in the Oberland. On a hillside above the Loisach valley and yet also close to the Isar. What a favour. This unique location of the village, between the mountain in the south and the valley, the wide plain, in the north, is also constantly in mind in the present planning area. The healing spring alone is not the reason for the attractiveness of the place, but also the sublimity described above. All the buildings and programmes that have settled in Bad Heilbrunn up to the present day as a result of its importance as an electoral and later royal spa thus derive their significance indirectly from this favourable location in the landscape.


As a spa town thus constituted, Bad Heilbrunn has followed its very specific local development. The strong awareness of the special nature of "the place", beyond the use of the spring, was cultivated in Bad Heilbrunns. The guest and his needs were noticeably at the centre of early planning considerations. Various typologies that were foreign to the Upper Bavarian farming village, such as the spring house, the Wandelhalle, the hotel, etc., were skilfully placed and, together with the familiar village types of the church, the schoolhouse and also the farmhouse, formed a differentiated and spatially extremely skilfully arranged ensemble. The atmospheric density achieved in this way was supported by the many landscape elements woven into the variously dimensioned park spaces. Large, powerful trees, set in groups or as an avenue, directing and pointing, determine the character of these park spaces.

It is precisely these generous, stately tree backdrops that support the very special atmosphere of the place described, far removed from the rural idyll of farmhouse, inn and church, as is often claimed in the nearby plain of the Isar Valley. Even the partial removal of individual buildings, such as the old spring house and its qualitatively much weaker replacement building, did not really disturb this atmospheric density at first. Only recently, due to the demolition of entire building ensembles, above all the Wandelhalle, does a feeling of strong spatial erosion set in at the site. Formative spatial edges are lost. Tree backdrops and avenues appear as relics that are difficult to interpret. Important elements of individual spatial scenes are lost.

This scenic density was and is the distinctive quality of the site!

At the same time, the spatial situations found are very diverse and varied. The place is not characterised by a continuous, unambiguous image. Many different scenes can be understood as complementary spaces of experience in motion, during the stroll. Bad Heilbrunn is thus already, due to its layout as an ensemble of park and free-standing, partly villa-like house, a place of interspersing, of moving experience, of scenic spatial arrangements.


The present design builds on these characteristics.

Existing and newly created spaces thus follow a kind of choreography of different scenic images. Spa park, market place, Bella Vista, avenue, entrance, Grand Hotel are some examples. In addition to the programmes and uses on offer, the spatial linking of the different scenes is essential. From Kirchberg, through the entrance to Kiliansplatz. Along the Wandelhalle with its kiosk and market stalls, past the new, stately Kurhaus into the park. Take a short walk along the avenue and then, on the park side of the Wandelhalle, sit on a bench facing south with a view of the mountains. Back to the Kurhaus for a coffee, across the square past the town hall to the new flat of the elderly mother. Later I buy some ingredients in the shop opposite. The cycle paths meet here. Just like the day trippers and spa guests after a completed hike or a long walk.

The new, single-storey Wandelhalle, the Kurhaus with its community hall and small café, as well as offices and residential use on the upper floors, take on central roles as spatial mediators between the individual scenes. In addition, the new ensemble of residential buildings on Badstraße in the north creates a spatial conclusion to the site. Below, facing the northern landscape of the plain, is the Bella Vista. A place of tranquillity and contemplation. From here, a footpath leads along the slope, past the new Grand Hotel, following the generously connected green space to the Park Villa and on to Adelheidstrasse south of the church.


Different typologies and forms of living are deliberately offered in the planning shown. Only the format of the buildings shown is similar in each case. According to their position in the village and the different scenes, 3-storey, elongated buildings alternate with equally high but more compactly dimensioned houses that follow more the familiar type of the town hall. The buildings that clearly refer to the landscape or park describe a freer formal language. The scenes change accordingly. The Grandhotel, despite its relatively large mass, thus fits into the landscape appropriately in terms of height, with an unobstructed view over the Loisach and Isar valleys in the second row of the village. The Kurhaus, as a mixed-use "first house on the square", complements the elongated Wandelhalle, which, as a simple but elegant, precise wooden building, takes on a separating role from the market square and the park, but at the same time assumes functions of shelter, storage, seating as well as simple sales and exhibition.

The design attempts to evaluate the existing relics and qualities and to revive them through restrained, new settings in the place, thus linking Bad Heilbrunn to a newly conceived structure of partly familiar scenes.