Munich architect: Debate about the Sep Ruf House in Solln – Munich

The historical significance of this building is not immediately apparent. Of course, there are a few typical features, such as the corner balcony or the round window in the gable. Overall, however, the residential building number 2 on Fellererplatz in Solln appears rather inconspicuous. But for connoisseurs it is a jewel, because one of the city’s most renowned architects designed it in 1936 on behalf of the client Andreas Scherr: Franz Joseph “Sep” Ruf.

The Solln legacy of the Munich master builder, who died in 1982, was rediscovered relatively late. Now it is to be demolished and made way for a three-horse terraced house. A Concept Immobilien GmbH is already advertising the property in the heart of the southern district as a “building plot in a prime location”. For the architects and historians of the Sep Ruf Society, this sounds like an alarm call. The club really wants to save the house.

Located directly opposite the mighty parish church of St. Johann Baptist, flanked by a supermarket and a modern residential complex, the Sep-Ruf-Haus has largely been preserved in its original form. In 1984 only a staircase was added. A generously sized garden extends on the 349 square meter property between Fellererplatz and Herterichstrasse. From the Sep-Ruf-Gesellschaft’s point of view, it must be possible to place the planned prefabricated three-horse vehicle with 180 square meters of living space and 210 square meters of usable space in this part of the property without endangering the core of the existing building.

For the Sep-Ruf-Gesellschaft, the house on Fellererplatz is also a case for monument protection and would therefore fit perfectly into the nearby historic Solln village center, which is under ensemble protection. In fact, the State Office for Monument Preservation has already intervened and is examining the status of a monument. On the other hand, the change plans have come a long way in terms of building regulations.

According to information from the Department of Urban Planning and Building Regulations, a building permit has been available since December 2022, but without notice of the start of construction. The department says we are now waiting for the assessment of the State Office for Monument Protection to decide on further steps. The Lower Monument Protection Authority has already made a statement: It is “open to alternative development while preserving the existing building”. However, this is followed by the note that the Sollner Ruf House is “not registered as a monument” – possibly the sticking point.

Alexander Aichwalder, building planning expert for the Thalkirchen-Obersendling-Forstenried-Fürstenried-Solln district committee, estimates the “probability of success” of initiatives towards monument protection as “very low”. A look around the neighborhood of the Ruf House on Fellererplatz is enough to see that almost anything is possible in terms of building regulations in this corner of Solln. “As hard as it is, without monument protection there is no security against demolition in this area,” says Aichwalder

In Grünwald, an alliance of residents, local councilors and monument conservationists recently managed to save a Sep Ruf house from the demolition excavator – a kind of blueprint for the association of history-conscious architects. Like its counterpart in Solln, the building on the corner of Münchner Straße and Hugo-Junkers-Straße fell to an investor who had in mind a residential and commercial building with an underground car park on the property in question. The Grünwald local council thwarted the plan at the last minute, so to speak, by imposing a ban on changes. The building is now under ensemble protection as part of an entire row of houses.

Whatever the outcome of the tug-of-war in Solln, there is no doubt about the outstanding importance of many of Sep Ruf’s works. The architect set accents in the Munich cityscape, especially in the post-war period. Even the large buildings he designed are characterized by lightness and transparency, convincing as counterpoints to the monumental architecture of the Nazi era.

Ruf’s best-known works include the Royal Filmpalast on Goetheplatz, the US Consulate General on Queen Street and the reading room of the Bavarian State Library in Munich. Or the Chancellor’s Bungalow in Bonn, built in 1963. Ruf, who was born in 1908, also left his mark on the German Museum (Aerospace Hall). He also built beautiful residences in the Isar Valley and the Würm Valley for numerous celebrities.

The “Word & Bild” publishing house in Baierbrunn is considered one of his masterpieces. He had a close friendship with the publisher Rolf Becker. Ruf was anything but an ivory tower architect. But he probably would have managed one of those too. With striking lines and a bright facade.

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