History never ends
The expression “If these walls could speak!” refers to the dense stratification of human lives that have been lived out inside given architectural spaces over the years and to which they bear silent witness. Whether in public or private spaces, restaurants or bedrooms, offices or kitchens, human lives are demarcated by walls, architectural boxes that offer shelter from the rain and the sun, from crowds and solitude. In Europe there is a strong awareness of the historic nature of buildings, which are appreciated both by the inhabitants and by visitors from areas such as North America and Japan where historic architecture is very rare.
In the case of the Staatliches Hofbräuhaus (literally State Court Brewery) in Munich, the clock of history has been running for more than four centuries, to be precise since 27 September 1589. The brewery was set up on the instigation of the Duke of Bavaria Wilhelm V, who decided to revive local beer production, judging the beer that he was obliged to import from the city of Einbeck in the duchy of Hanover to be of low quality and overpriced. Originally set up inside the court, in 1600 the Hofbräuhaus was established in the Platzl area, where it has remained until the present day. It took on its current form in 1897, when it became the property of the Bavarian State and the brewery located in the rear of the building was transferred to the suburbs to make room for a large new beer hall.
For many years the beer hall was one of the main arenas for German politics, from a meeting place for early twentieth century leftwing revolutionaries to the venue for one of Hitler’s first rallies (1920), and was damaged in bombing by the British air force in 1944. Gradually rebuilt in the 1950s, the Hofbräuhaus soon became one of the symbols of the Bavarian lifestyle, although reconstruction was not completed until 2008. Under its cross vaults, many of which are painted, the Hofbräuhaus has four rooms, the largest of which on the ground floor is able to seat 1,300 people. Almost all seating consists of benches, a solution that promotes socialisation. The beer hall recently underwent further maintenance and refurbishing work. The aim of the project was to maintain the mood and spirit of the Hofbräuhaus while adapting it to the practical needs of ease of management and cleaning. This prompted the decision to use Antica Umbria collection tiles for the floors, a classic from the Rustica Tagina series, rustic tiles that at first sight are reminiscent of terracotta but offer all the unique features of porcelain. Sheltered by welcoming wood-panelled walls, at all times of day the beer hall is packed with Bavarians and outsiders, friends and strangers, old and young, men and women, all brought together by their love for beer, a beverage that overcomes social and racial differences and which, at least for the duration of a toast, makes all people equal.