Emblem Created with Sketch.

Pleasure Palaces of Nymphenburg

My cultural ramblings in Munich continued to the west of the city, where I spent a quiet day alone exploring the wonders of Nymphenburg Palace. If you’ve never visited this historic summer retreat of the Bavarian princes, it’s a quite astonishing tour de force of architecture, interior and landscape design.

Over the centuries the landscape of the Schloss was expanded to incorporate smaller ‘park palaces’, including a hermitage, bath house, hunting lodge and the Pagodenburg – a special palace for recuperating with tea after sporting exertion. 

The park palaces are places where family and guests would retreat from formal life at the main palace to play games, dine and let off steam. To us, the settings may seem extreme in their Rococo grandeur but in contrast to the demanding protocols of court life they represented necessary fun and freedom. 

The Badenburg (bath house) in the southern part of the park, for instance, combines a spectacular inside bathing pool with a banqueting hall and rooms for changing and relaxing. In the bathing hall itself extraordinary and colourful stuccowork and ceiling frescos designed around the element of water are offset by lower planes of blue-and-white Dutch tiling. The once water-filled pool would have been large enough for people to swim in, overlooked by companions from a gallery above.

Another example is the Amalienburg, a combination of pleasure palace and hunting lodge and a true ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, where every element of design across the sequence of rooms is exceptional and connected to a theme. Amongst its elegant and decadent spaces is a hall of mirrors, a pheasant room, a dog and gun room, kitchens and rooms for ‘retiring’. 

In contrast, the Magdalenenklause – a folly for a notional hermit set in a wooded grove – appears at first to be a crumbling ruin. In fact the space is a chapel fashioned as an elaborate grotto – a ‘primitive hut’ for private contemplation and solitude in contrast to the high-octane extravagance of the Palace.

On reflection, I did feel some affinity with the intentions behind the grand Baroque estate. The retreats and mini palaces at Nymphenburg are after all not entirely different in their intention from the kind of pavilions we create for our own clients to enjoy their gardens or landscapes. 

Having said that, our focus extends from repurposing and reinventing uses for existing structures to entirely new structures for contemporary living and activities. Our clients’ love of gardens, the landscape, escaping and the appetite for commissioning new buildings is (although on a different scale and in a different time) not that far away from the brief in Bavaria, although we haven’t yet been asked to be exuberant with stucco!

As a studio our overarching aim is to make home and family living as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible, with the fundamentals of play, health and wellbeing, good food and relaxation at the heart of our design.



+44 (0)1453 860200





Easter Park
Nympsfield, Stonehouse
Gloucestershire GL10 3UL


The People's Hall
Studio 5, 2 Olaf Street
London W11 4BE

Follow Us