Text by Susanne Böttge (Head of the Goetheanum Administrative)
Haus Schuurman is the last building designed by Rudolf Steiner. Situated to the east of the Goetheanum building, about 160 m from it and about 13 m above the ground, it forms the striking end of the ensemble situation on the grounds of the garden park. The residential house contrasts with the Duldeck house to the west of the main building in its very simple, angular design with flat surfaces and large rectangular windows. Between these two buildings of almost polar design, the huge breadth of form necessary in Goethean architecture is evident.
Origins and history
First design sketches 29 September 1924 by R. Steiner
Year of construction 1924-25
Fire 1976 Conversion from a single-family house to a speech formation school on the upper and lower floors with major fire protection measures and new staircase on the ground floor by Arch. Tschakalov and his colleague Matthias Ganz. Garden staircase in front, designed by Christian Hitsch
History of the building
The following information is taken from an oral report by Mrs. Ina Schuurman, published in Zimmer, Erich - Rudolf Steiner als Architekt von Wohn- und Zweckbauten, 2nd edition, Verlag Freies Geistesleben, Stuttgart, 1985 p. 232ff.
The musician Max Schuurman, a native of Holland, had come to Dornach in January 1915 with his wife Ina, who came from Koblenz (Mosel), originally to participate in the construction of the 1st Goetheanum.
Around August 1924 he planned to buy a house. When Rudolf Steiner heard about this he encouraged him to build his own house, as he was interested in building an inhabited house to the east of the main building and designing it himself.
The client's wish was in the direction of the wooden clinic building in Arlesheim for Dr. Ita Wegman, which had been built shortly before. Above all, they wanted a music hall with dimensions of 8 x 8 metres, oriented towards the size of the Goetheanum carpentry hall stage, which could also be used as a euythmy practice room. Rudolf Steiner had replied to this: "Then we must build the house 10 by 12 metres." Apparently he wanted a building that was not too small. In response to the owner's concerns that this might exceed his financial possibilities, he offered to make the land available. He also promised to compensate for the additional costs. This was also in order to be able to continue to employ and retain the craftsmen who had worked on the construction of the Goetheanum and surrounding buildings, such as the publishing house, and who was therefore specially trained for the construction method. In the following, he drew four design sketches.
▪️ Design variants
The commissioned director of the Goetheanum building office Ernst Aisenpreis, or more precisely his co-worker Mr von Baravalle, dealt with the realisation of the design. Four of Rudolf Steiner's hand sketches served as a basis. He created a first model that followed these as closely as possible. In the further editing process, a second model was created that comes closer to the current state. The most westerly changes are the shape of the roof with the original clear dynamic of movement from east to west and the change from four to three windows on the upper floor of the west façade.1
A fire starting in Mrs. Schuurman's kitchen on the upper floor in 1976 almost completely destroyed the interior design and finishing in the upper and attic floors. It was therefore decided to build a new extension for the language school and also to change the floor plan and the upper staircase. Residential use was added to the attic, bringing four more skylights to the four existing ones, the three larger ones on the east roof. In 1992, there was an electrical fire in the kitchen of the language school, which caused only minor damage.