Photo by Donnie Mangino

The unassuming house that is home to La Hütte Royal.

By Donnie Mangino

At first glance, a passerby may notice the neatly manicured grass or the porch swing swaying in the breeze and continue walking-by simply because the typicality of the brick house blends into the normalcy of its surroundings like a chameleon. The house doesn’t shelter a middle-class nuclear family, but at its exterior is a cavernous, labyrinthine-like home to Hamburg, Germany native Thorsten Brinkmann’s artistic vision. 

 

Built in 1912, 1812 Rialto Street in the Troy Hill neighborhood was home to a family, and afterward squatters, and was eventually purchased by art collector Evan Mirapaul in 2011 who commissioned the space to the artist essentially as an architectural blank space for Brinkmann’s imagination.

 

Given the moniker La Hütte Royal in 2013, the art house has since received thousands of visitors (by appointment only) through its narrow halls and nontraditional passageways. Ryan, docent of the art house, suggests to “start from the basement and work your way to the third floor.” 

 

La Hütte Royal is the epitome of reduce, reuse, and recycle as most—if not all—items on display in the rooms of the house are common household items arranged, mixed, and matched into an avant-garde approach to traditional suburbia. The German word for this art style is gesamtkunstwerk, which translates in English to “total work of art“ or “a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms.” 

 

In the basement is a boxing ring with suspended fists, on the ground floor a room made entirely of vinyl records and Brinkmann’s paintings. In another room a mural of a forest scene and at the center a camping tent sits in the middle of the floor, and beside the tent a plastic owl arranged in front of a fuzzy television screen. Before the tour a warning is given by the docent to those with a phobia for tight spaces as there are multiple areas in the home where guests have to crawl through narrow—and sometimes dark—passageways to access its rooms. At the second floor a narrow fireplace leads to a sequestered room where traditional household items like scissors and tweezers are hanging from the walls, and from that room leads a crawlspace lit only by a red light which accesses a space filled with old cassettes and classic books only high enough to kneel in.

 

At the top floor of La Hütte Royal is Brinkmann’s own take at a home theater where neatly arranged rows of vintage beauty hairdryers sit in front of an experimental art film featuring Thorsten Brinkmann himself.

 

The La Hütte Royal is free to its patrons, and depending on the docents available, can accommodate groups up to six people. Contact lahutteroyal@gmail.com to speak with a docent and schedule a visitation. 

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