The Kükelhaus House and its surroundings

"Soest? That's where Kükelhaus lives!"
(Heinrich Böll)

For three decades Hugo Kükelhaus had been living in Soest (West Germany). This town gave him a surrounding and an atmosphere which was conducive to his work.

This especially applies to his residential house situated at the entrance of the Bergenthal Park which he called "the priceless mansion".

Additional links:

Website Soest

"the priceless mansion"

Panorama of the city of Soest

The Kükelhaus Mansion is a two-storey timber-framed barn that was constructed in the manner of storey building on the Dolffsian property in 1670. It is located on a former noble court from the 17th and 18th centuries, situated in a central city park.

It is close to the Nöttenstrasse street und therefore significantly characterizes the appearance of the former aristocratic estate. This explains why the design and the ornaments of the exterior of the barn are so elaborate. Hence, at the gable end that looks onto the road, there are very elaborately crafted wooden filling elements being decorated with profile arcs, floral and diamond patterns. The location of the former wooden gate is off-centre. This has been substituted with large rows of windows.

In 1954 Hugo Kükelhaus inherited the barn, which was at the time strongly decayed, and rebuilt it as his residential house and workshop. The careful and considerate manner of rebuilding was at the time exceptional and is even today exemplary for monument preservation.

Picture of the barn in the Bergental Park before the conversion to the "priceless house"

He called this building “The priceless house”. He was not referring to his investments in rebuilding, but to the atmosphere and experience that the house procured and that affected his creative work.

One can comprehend the first principles of his so-called organological building, including the colour work and the meaning of material by studying his house, qualities which are, according to Kükelhaus, of vital importance for the well-being of people.

After Kükelhaus’ death in 1984, his workrooms in the upper floor and attic were left unchanged. As a museum and archive, today they represent Kükelhaus’ philosophy of “living with your senses”.

To this day, the former workspaces preserve their authentic charisma and offer, together with the exhibits in the remaining parts of the house, a vivid opportunity to approach the artistic practice of this versatile person.

Additional links:

PDF-Datei: Soester Anzeiger vom 18.11.2010: 250-Jähriges im Bergenthalpark

View of the study in the Kükelhaus house

The Kükelhaus House, together with the Adult Education Centre, marks the entrance to the "Bergenthal Park", which belongs to the former von Dolffssche Hof, a noble farm of the 17th and 18th centuries. The entire estate, which still exists today and consists of a residential house, barn, stables and tea house in the park, was acquired at the end of the 19th century by the merchant Constantin Wilhelm Bergenthal, who thus gave his name to this inner-city park, which is now freely accessible.

The seat of the adult education centre is the former residential house from 1670, which was renovated for this purpose in 1985. The Kükelhaus house was originally the estate's barn and also dates from 1670. The immediately adjoining stable from 1760, which was built later, was converted into a day-care centre for the elderly in 1962.

With a good one hectare, the "Bergenthalpark" is the largest park within the city walls. Its extraordinary charm is due to its valuable, up to 160-year-old and partly rare tree population on the extensive lawns. Many people in Soest appreciate the park as a quiet gem in the middle of the city, but families also like to visit the small playground with their children.

The play stations from the "Field of Experience of the Senses" developed by Hugo Kükelhaus, such as the "Partner Swing", the "Three Times Pendulum" and the "Rotating Disk" are popular play points in the park, while the "Chain Footbridge" completes the playground.

In addition, there are two sculptures made of green sandstone in the park: "The Lovers" "The Silence" by the Krakow artist Janina Papp and "Large Torso" by Michael Schoenholtz, as well as a boules court.

Additional links:

Mehr zu den Skulturen „Die Liebenden“ „Die Stille“

Mehr zur Skulptur „Großer Torso“

PDF-Datei: Soester Anzeiger vom 23.07.2010: Soester Lieblingsplätze

You are welcome to visit the Kükelhaus mansion by request. Contact us if you are interested.

 Group tours of about 90 minutes can be arranged at any time, even on the weekends. Please contact the tourist information of the city of Soest via telephone (+49) 2921-66350050.

 The Bergenthalpark is open to the public and accessible at any time. The park and the Kükelhaus mansion are part of the walking tour through the historic city.

Additional links:

Contact our office

Link to the tourist information Soest

PDF file walking tour through the historic city

The design work of Kükelhaus in Soest cannot be compared to the work that he completed elsewhere in Westphalia and in the Ruhr region as well as in Southern Germany and in Switzerland (for example, complete interior design of public buildings such as city halls, schools, and churches …)..

However, the work that Kükelhaus was able to complete in Soest still demonstrates a wide spectrum that reaches from furniture to art and toys.

Marks of Hugo Kükelhaus in Soest

His best known work is probably the large pebble stone composition in the administrative building of Soest County (Kreishaus), which Kükelhaus created in 1958 and introduced in the newspaper Soester Anzeiger under the title of "Full fragance of life" (June 20, 1958). Though the impact of this sculpture can no longer be experienced in its original sensation, in its time it was the wall decor of a staircase that lead from the entry lobby to the upper floor.

At the renovation and redesign of the county building years ago the staircase was removed with the result that today the footprint of this wall mosaic appears random to the unknowing observer.

Sometime later Kükelhaus installed a similar wall assembly in the administrative building of the German Scientific Foundation in Bonn. He made an effort to always use stones from regional sources.


Weitere Links:

Full fragance of life"

County Hall Soest

Few people in Soest are aware that Kükelhaus also left his imprints on several churches of the city.

Two portals of the Petri church stem from Kükelhaus , the occidental tower portal and the door between the so-called paradise and the inner hall of the church. They are beautiful, heavy doors made of oak, which however, other than the portals by Fritz Viegener and Gerhard Marcks, do not insist on being considered works of art.


Petri Church portal

In 1957 the rebuilt St. Thomae church obtained a lectern, an altar and two doors based on designs by Kükelhaus. While the doors still exist, the podium and the altar were relocated to the Lucas church in Lippstadt-Hörste in 1975/76.

New St. Thomae

The tower portal of the Pauli church also is a design by Kükelhaus. Details and rhythmic structure of the portal become evident only at close scrutiny: the laminate partitions or frame fittings are structured slightly asymmetrically. Variations of measurements can be found in the slabs and in the grooves. Of exceptional beauty is the bronze door knob.

Drawing drafts still present in the heritage bestowed on Soest not only show the well-preserved original creative idea of Hugo Kükelhaus for this portal, but also demonstrate the way he worked and the roots he had in carpentry with its potential of shaping and thus creating. This way he planned the door in the smallest detail and equipped his drawings with instructions such as “original mirror oak with smoked ammonium vapors (not tinted)” or “profiles not machined but hand-crafted, wood chiseled not lathed”.

Additional links:

Drawing drafts

 smoked ammonium vapors

Pauli church portal

When the chapel of the Osthofen cemetery was rebuilt in 1956, Kükelhaus was invited by Soest’s construction management office to renovate the interior design. He designed the structure of the window sheets and inserted in them small colored glass windows. A particularly skillful work is, in my opinion, his design of the duplex portal in the front wall of the hall. This wooden portal – entirely covered with copper sheets and laminate partitions – displays simply hammered linear bands resembling waves and large, oriental art-like inserted semi-precious stones.

Osthofen cemetery chapel

In 1963/64 Kükelhaus was hired to design the colored glass windows of the staircase and entry hall for the Pestalozzi School in Soest. The windows are still there, although in a location different from the original one. They are variations around the theme of birds.

Windows in the Pestalozzi School

In an entirely different area was Kükelhaus’s participation in the redesign of the school yard of Soest’s Archigymnasiums in 1980. This was made possible by reassigning an amount originally destined for “Art in Building” to the installation of several ”Play and Experience Stations for the Development of the Senses”. Kükelhaus, who at the time when the school yard devices were set up already enjoyed big popularity with his "Experience Park" elsewhere, was delighted at the opportunity.

Before that time he had already been successful in installing prototypes of the Experience Stations in the remodeled Central School of Warstein and, outside of Soest County, schools in Dortmund and in Switzerland. What was created in the school yard of the Archigymnasium was, as he correctly anticipated, only a “beginning“ (as per the title of an essay written for the inauguration), not only in regard to the quantity in hopes of additional Experience Parks and Stations but also and especially in regard to the pedagogic effectiveness and use of the system. He knew that these devices, if used for relaxation in between classes only, would not achieve their full effect.     

Archigymnasium schoolyard