Langen Foundation was conceived according to plans of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando and opened in September of 2004.
On the banks of the river Erft, on the outskirts of Dusseldorf, is an art museum known as Island of Hombroich (Insel Hombroich). As indicated by the name the entire site is an island in the middle of a vast marsh area, a nature park museum that is a rarity in today's world.
Since coming into ownership of the land, proprietor Karl-Heinrich Müller has invested considerable resources and time transforming the place and restoring the natural environment through a program of reforestation that will eventually return the area to something like it was several centuries ago.
About a kilometer north-west of the island of the Island of Hombroich, on a site occupied by a former NATO missile silo, Müller has opened a new museum for which he himself designed one of the galleries and other architectural features. This was the point of departure for the Langen Foundation project.
The Langen Foundation is located at the Raketenstation Hombroich (Neuss), a former NATO base. It comprises two exhibition areas with a total floor space of 1300 sqm. These spaces are used for regular presentations of works put together from the Collection of Viktor and Marianne Langen, the Japan Room of the art exhibition house being reserved as the central site for the Japanese Collection. The building has a double-skin volume and two half-buried temporary exhibition wings. The structure mainly consists of reinforced concrete, glass and steel.
Visitors enter through a cut-out in the semicircular concrete wall, opening up the view to the building. A path, bordered by a row of cherry trees, guide visitors around the pond to the entrance on the longitudinal side of the building. The building is composed of two architecturally distinct complexes: a long concrete structure within a glass envelope and, at a 45 degree angle, two parallel concrete wings buried six meters deep in the earth and protruding only 3.45 meters above it. A grand stairway between the two wings of the building leads back to ground level. The glass envelope, supported by steel girders, protects the perimeter around the 76 meter long, 10.8 meter wide and 6 meter high concrete core. Reflections in the glass skin and in the water of the shallow pond dissolve borders and communicate an impression of weightlessness.
The Foundation owes its existence to a private initiative. Together with her husband, the founder, Marianne Langen, had begun to collect art works in the 1950s. Their interest in other cultures explains the two foci of the collection: scrolls and sculptures from traditional Japanese art, along with works of classical modern art and contemporary art from the West.