Villa Hohenhof was commissioned by Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874 – 1921), the cultural reformer from Hagen, and built between 1906 and 1908 according to plans drawn up by Belgian architect Henry van de Velde (1863 – 1957) .
The overall plan for the villa was based on the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), whereby Henry van de Velde designed the outer areas, the building and the interior decoration in close relation to each other.
Osthaus did not agree with the garden as realised from van de Velde’s plans. The lacking homeliness and the unsuitability of the restrained garden for use contradicted his idea of a domestic garden.
In 1913, Osthaus commissioned the garden architect Leberecht Migge (1881 – 1935) from Hamburg to draw up a concept for planting the garden.
The garden survived initially following its completion and after Osthaus’ early death in 1921.
At the beginning of the 1960s, the town of Hagen leased the grounds to the state of North-Rhine Westphalia so that pavilions of Dortmund’s Pädagogische Hochschule (college of education) could be erected here. This resulted in the destruction of the vegetable garden and its terracing in 1963
In 1987, the pavilions were demolished and the area was planted with grass. Plans to restore the original gardens failed due to lack of finance.
In 2003, restoration work was eventually carried out on the garden during work on the buildings.
Villa Hohenhof was commissioned by Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874 – 1921), the cultural reformer from Hagen, and built between 1906 and 1908 from plans drawn up by Belgian architect Henry van de Velde (1863 – 1957) .
The overall plan for the villa was based on the idea of a Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), whereby Henry van de Velde designed the outer areas, the building and the interior decoration in close relation to each other. Plants only played a minor role in the “architect’s gardens” of the period; they were to be subordinated to the architecture. The house and garden were seen as whole which was planned by the architect alone and not, e.g. together with a garden architect. The approach of garden architects of the period followed the principles of landscape-type design and was often rejected by the new generation of architects as outmoded.
This architectonic view of design can also be found in Villa Hohenhof and its grounds. The basic geometrical plan of the villa was continued in the geometrical forms of the individual parts of the garden. Furthermore, all the areas of the garden related to the building through symmetry axes. Van de Velde saw garden plants simply as ornamental extras and decoration for his architecture.
Van de Velde created a series of areas in the garden which had an axial relation to the villa. Aristide Maillol’s now-lost sculpture “Sérénité” was placed at the centre of the parterre de pelouse and emphasised the south axis, which was positioned to relate to Osthaus’ study. A white lattice behind the sculpture screened it from woods in the background. Today, the tomb of the patron of the arts – designed by Johannes Auerbach – can be found at the end of this axis.
The approach to the house and entrance had an axial relation to the main gate. The north courtyard had a large oval flowerbed and was bordered to the east by a wall and to the south and west by villa buildings.
The east symmetry axis related to the east façade of the house and was formed by a meadow on the side of the house with a slope.
To the west, a hawthorn-lined path led to the villa. It separated the bleaching area and the vegetable garden, which were divided into terraces by low walls.
However, Osthaus did not agree with the garden as realised from van de Velde’s plans. The lack of homeliness in the restrained garden contradicted his idea of a domestic garden. Hence, he had the south garden expanded in the period before 1913 and the bleaching area divided into two smaller areas.
In 1913, Osthaus commissioned the garden architect Leberecht Migge (1881 – 1935) to draw up a concept for planting the garden. Migge’s design triggered a dispute between himself and van de Velde. Both men – Migge as a garden designer and van de Velde as an architect – had differing views on the freedom and limits of their respective professions. Osthaus remained determined, however, and Migge’s concept was executed in almost unchanged form from 1913 to 1914.
Migge’s concept for planting the garden amounted to the formation of various garden areas which together created an overall picture but which were to be independent of the house. The parts of the garden near the house still related to it but contained more variety as a result of more sophisticated planting than that envisaged by van de Velde.
The garden survived initially after Osthaus’ early death in 1921. Villa Hohenhof housed a training centre for National Socialist officials from 1933 – 1944 and a gynaecological hospital from 1945 – 1960.
Up to that point, the garden still existed in its original form. At the beginning of the 1960s, the town of Hagen leased the grounds to the state of North-Rhine Westphalia so that pavilions of Dortmund’s Pädagogische Hochschule (college of education) could be erected here. This resulted in the destruction of the vegetable garden and its terracing in 1963.
In spring 1987, the pavilions were demolished, the area levelled and grass planted. Plans from this period to restore the original gardens failed due to lack of finance.
No restoration of large areas of the garden occurred at first after 1987. The dilapidated wooden structure surrounding the south garden was renewed in the eighties and is in good condition today as is the pergola above the sunken garden.
In 2003, the former terracing was eventually restored in the service courtyard and adjoining areas during work on the former outbuilding. The original appearance of the Nordhof (north courtyard) and the axis of paths to the west was restored during this process. Flagstones were removed and replaced by chippings and the partly-surviving paving of the path was retained. Furthermore, it was possible to reconstruct the sunken garden on the basis of the original plans. The areas of grass in the other parts of the garden (vegetable garden and bleaching area) were retained. At present there are not enough funds to reinstate the terraces of these areas as shown in the original plans.
Today, Villa Hohenhof belongs to the town of Hagen, which maintains an external branch Of the Karl-Ernst-Osthaus Museum there.
58093 Hagen Emst (NRW)
Villa Hohenhof is a subsidiary of Karl Ernst Osthaus Museum der Stadt Hagen
Saturday – Sunday: 11.00 to 18.00
Closed 24.12.; 25.12.; 31.12.; 1.1.;
Adults 3 Euro; Children under 6: free
Events and exhibitions:
Permanent exhibition on Hagener Impuls (including the building and garden)
For details see website: www.keom.de/keom/veranstaltungen.html
Restaurant/Tea Room: No
WC: In the museum
Parking: In the street and near-by square
Average visitor duration: 1- 2 hours (including museum)
Accessibility: Due to the protected architecture Villa Hohenhof is not suitable for people in wheelchairs