Langen Foundation by Tadao Ando
At the address – Raketenstation Hombroich 1, 41472 Neuss, Germany you’ll find something which can only be experienced and is difficult to mould in words. The Langen Foundation building in Homborich is a seriously awesome piece of architecture. Let’s get hold of some facts about that building and its story –
The story of the Langen Foundation began in an encounter with an ardent lover of art. There is an art museum called the Hombroich Museum Island by the River Erft outside the German city of Neuss near Dusseldorf. This unique museum occupies an entire island in extensive marshland.
Scattered across 20 hectares, a dozen or so handsome exhibition pavilions designed by the sculptor Erwin Heerich, together with sculptures in the open air, blend into the surrounding trees. Superb artworks are casually displayed where they can be touched by hand. IT’S JUST – WOW!
Hombroich Museum Island is truly a paradise of art. Karl-Heinrich Muller, the owner of this museum, acquired land around the site and, through enormous effort that involved changing the shape of the land and replanting trees, restored it to the state it was several centuries ago. We cannot but be amazed by Muller’s imagination and lifelong dedication.
Muller conceived a plan to transform a former NATO missile base about a kilometer northwest of Hombroich Island into an art museum and commissioned Ando to design the gallery. That was the beginning of the Langen Foundation Neuss project.
Ando first visited the site in-1994. The museum was completed ten years later. During that time, responsibility for the administration of the museum passed from Karl-Heinrich Wier to the Hombroich Museum Island Foundation.
In 2000, the collector Marianne Langen offered to finance the construction. Land was leased from the foundation; construction, restarted in 2002, was at last completed.
Marianne Langen was already 90 at the time, but Ando was profoundly impressed by her resolute attitude and decisiveness.
This museum is intended to house and exhibit a collection of Eastern and contemporary art built up by Mrs Langen and her husband. In response to the program, Ando designed two different spaces: a still space filled with soft light for Eastern art and a dynamic space for contemporary art.
The permanent exhibition is displayed in a space with a double-membrane structure: a concrete box inside a glass box. Special exhibitions are held in two spaces buried in the ground at a 45-degree angle relative to the double-membrane structure.
The permanent exhibition of Eastern art is in the box-within-a-box. It is surrounded by a buffer zone similar to the engawa (veranda) found in traditional Japanese architecture. There is such continuity between inside and outside that inside the buffer zone we feel as if we were walking in the forest.
See more Pictures of Langen Foundation for a better understanding. You can also watch this interesting video on Langen Foundation Walkthrough.
The special exhibition buildings are buried in the ground; dramatic light is introduced through skylights into the closed-off gallery, creating a dynamic space. Contrasting spaces, one still and the other dynamic, are created through the drama of tight.
Ando was deeply moved by the dream to which Muller and Langen had dedicated their lives. Wishing their dream eternal life, he designed the Langen Foundation so that it blends quietly into the forest.
This is a building that is the product of the strong will of Marianne Langen, the energy of Karl-Heinrich Muller, and their love of art. Unfortunately, Marianne Langen died before the museum opened in February 2004. Following her wishes, her daughter, Sabine Langen-Crasemann, now serves as the director of the museum.