Tadao Ando's Architecture for Hombroich Missile Base
The design of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando for the Hombroich Missile Base (near Düsseldorf) was inaugurated on September 12, 2004. It is the most recent of the buildings that, as an ensemble, represent a unique cultural space on the island of Hombroich.
The Hombroich Missile Base is part of the visionary project of collector Karl-Heinrich Müller to turn a "neglected corner of the earth" in North-Rhine Westphalia into a unique synthesis of art and nature. After the development of the Museum Insel Hombroich, he bought the 13 hectares of land of a former NATO base in 1994. Not marked on any map, this area served defense purposes and the storage of cruise missile warheads and Pershing rockets. In 1992/93 it was mothballed as a result of the disarmament agreements between the NATO states and the former USSR.
At the invitation of Karl-Heinrich Müller, Tadao Ando had already visited the base in 1994 and saw it in its original state. Enthused by the unique cultural aspects of the installation project, the "spark" instantly captured him. His design became part of the overall concept, which was developed by Karl-Heinrich Müller, Erwin Heerich, Oliver Kruse and Katsuhito Nishikawa between 1994 and 1995. Their goal was not to completely eradicate the history of the location but to provide it with a new face and purpose. The concept was presented in 1996 at the Venice Biennale and the essential elements were realized by 2001.
Military elements like barbed wire fences, spotlight systems and bulletproof glass were removed. The halls, hangars, bunker systems, earth berms and observation tower were preserved, renovated and, in part, redesigned. New buildings by Heerich and Nishikawa complemented the existing ensemble, as did the sculptures by Heinz Baumüller and Eduardo Chillida, whose work surpasses the former watchtower in height and, together with Tadao Ando's big arch, now shapes the appearance of the grounds. This arch, today's entrance to the Langen Foundation, was realized in 1998/99 as one of the first buildings serving as a portal to the missile base.
The Hombroich Missile Base and the Museum Insel Hombroich were integrated into the Foundation Insel Hombroich in 1997 and today form the Kulturraum Hombroich – a dynamic ensemble of art, culture, science and nature that is continuously being developed.
When Marianne Langen saw Tadao Ando's plans for the first time in 2001 she very quickly decided to have this structure built as the last and largest artwork of her collection. In line with her motto, she did without any external subsidies. Tadao Ando revised his designs, which were originally created without consideration of any stipulations for the use or land allocation plans. He kept the basic structure of the grounds and enriched it with, among other things, an reflecting pool. In November 2002, the cornerstone for the building of the Langen Foundation was laid.
Referring to the history of the location with its old wall systems, the building is surrounded by earth berms. They protect it towards the outside and, at the same time, enhance interest in what's "behind". In the entrance area, Ando dissolves the wall system, replaceing it with the round arch and reflecting pool, and clears the view towards the house. It is an interruption that creates lightness and – supported by the reflections in the pool – a feeling of weightlessness.
Raketenstation Hombroich 1
D – 41472 Neuss
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