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Childrens Island Hombroich

Neuss, Germany
1 of 8

Located at the westernmost edge of the museum island of Hombroich is the Children's Island, a nursery school designed by Oliver Kruse to accommodate approximately 20 children. It was completed in October 1999 after taking approximately five and a half months to build.

This is not the first buildung of the sculptor Oliver Kruse, has been already active on the Insel Hombroich. Back in 1995, together with Katsuhito Nishikawa, he planned and built the One-Man House on the Rocket Station.

In the case of the nursery school a particularly important feature is the relationship between the main room and the adjoining rooms, this being clearly expressed in their spatial proportions.

Cell division has clearly taken place in the case of the nursery school, for a further number of adjoining rooms has now been added, such that these rooms take up virtually half of the entire volume of the building. The cellular concept of the building also finds expression in the fact that the two adjacent units are staggered, are facing in opposite directions and are each topped with a slightly sloping, raised roof, as featured on the One-Man House. The central section, glazed on both sides of the building, further underlines the common identity of the two adjacent units. This is where the kitchenette - in other words, the very heart of the building - is located.

The entrance area takes the form of a large cloakroom featuring a low, L-shaped bench for the twenty children and a two-flighted staircase flanked by vertical, room-high planks in lieu of banisters. The storerooms and the sanitary block are accessible from the cloakroom. They take up exactly one third of the rectangular ground plan, with the result that, together, the cloakroom and the staircase ideally form a square. Located on the first floor are the staff office and the rest-room, both accessible via a landing which, like the staircase, is flanked by vertical, room-high planks which separate it from the adjacent two-storey-high communal room. These planks lend the landing the character of a separate, self-contained room and, by the same token, are conducive to peace and quiet in the adjoining areas. They also readily permit parents to observe their children in the communal room below as they await their turn to talk to the head of the nursery school.

For its part, the two-storey-high communal room is divided into rest and activity areas. It is here, moreover, in the interior of the building, with its main and adjoining rooms, that the device of combining open and enclosed constructional units can be fully appreciated, for the exterior of the building provides only an inkling of this. As in the one-man house, Kruse plays here with the point and counterpoint of static and dynamic sensations of space. If we stand in front of the main entrance, all we see is a four-axis frontage divided into a three-axis enclosed part and a single-axis open part (this pattern in repeated, with axial symmetry, on the other side of the building and is featured similarly in the one-man house). Kruse then picks up and develops this theme of spatial and structural interplay for the interior of the building.

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  1. Architect's Website
lacuna, November 29th, 2012
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