House of City History, City Model, Stihl Gallery and Eliasson Sculpture
"Waiblingen - Young city in old walls", this becomes particularly clear at this point:
On the left, part of the well preserved city wall from the Middle Ages is still visible today. Directly in front of it stands one of the oldest half-timbered houses in the city, today's House of City History. On the other side of the square are the modern Stihl Gallery and Art School Unteres Remstal (Lower Rems Valley) and as a link between the Rems and the gallery, an impressive contemporary sculpture.
House of the City History
The imposing timber framed house in the former tanner's quarter is Waiblingen's oldest preserved secular building. It was spared the great fire of 1634 as it stood outside the city wall. It was built between 1549 and 1553 as a tannery. In earlier times, one arm of the Rems ran right past the house and here the skins were rinsed. After 1720 mainly wine growers lived and worked here, hence the name, "Weingärtner Vorstadt".
The building, which has been in municipal ownership since 1983, was awarded a "Europa Nostra" diploma for its extensive renovation in 1992. Today it houses the House of City History, the historical museum of the city of Waiblingen, which – an oft recognised peculiarity - also deals with the history and the appearance of the house itself. It is also the seat of the Heimatverein Waiblingen e.V.
In front of the house is the artist Egbert Broerken's model of the City of Waiblingen. This faithful replica of Waiblingen's old town on a scale of 1:600 is the starting point for city tours and offers a good overview of the historic old town. Public and historically important buildings as well as street names are labelled in Braille as orientation for the blind and visually impaired. The city model was a project of the local association and was financed by the association itself and by Waiblingen citizens, companies and foundations (founder board displayed on the model).
As an expression of the modern paying homage to the rich architecture of the old town, three oval flat-roofed buildings designed by Stuttgart architect Hartwig Schneider, present themselves opposite, like pebbles on the river. This ensemble houses the Galerie Stihl Waiblingen, the Art School Unteres Remstal and the administration building of the Eva Mayr-Stihl Foundation which opened in 2008 and was designed for three annually changing exhibitions. In 2012, the buildings received among other awards, the renowned "Hugo Häring Prize" for modern architecture.
On the site of today's Disegno restaurant stood the Häckermühle, a former 16th century mill for grinding oak bark for leather tanning (traceable since 1555). The grinding operations were continued up until1966 when
the building had to be demolished being in such a desolate condition that it could no longer be restored.
Today's new building, also designed by the architect Hartwig Schneider and reminiscent of the Häckermühle in its architectural form, houses the administration of the Stihl-Galerie along with the restaurant.
In 2009, the renowned Danish artist Olafur Eliasson created the stainless steel sculpture "Pavillon für Waiblingen" especially for the open space between the gallery and the art school. It refers to the river and to the surrounding nature in the form of a stylized fountain. The sculpture is accessible to visitors and is meant as a meeting place.
Another work of art at an unusual location behind the gallery is the "Man on Seahorse" by sculptor Prof. Stephan Balkenhol. Made of bronze, the 3.60 m high sculpture on a platform in the river turns the Rems into a platform for art. It is the artist's largest floating work.