Keeping it simple.
The Neanderthal Museum’s unusual and memorable architecture is captivating, but the potential of site it’s built on is had not been completely taken advantage of! And thus, the museum lacked an appropriate environment – a framework that drew its inspiration from the surrounding landscape, finding its scale and origins within it. Creating this framework did not actually require any major changes. It was merely a case of uncovering the existing forest-like landscape with its water courses and rock formations, and making it more accessible in its originality. With this in mind, the actual design is deliberately restrained. Its design vocabulary remains discreet and unpretentious. Its strength lies in its “simplicity”.
By ridding the site of its artificial elements and modifications, nature and landscape once again come to the fore. The site’s forest-like nature was fleshed out like a passe-partout. While some of the woody vegetation on the northern side of the site was cleared, edge plantings along the adjacent road were strengthened. This helped emphasise the image of a forest clearing, while the road and the neighbouring hotel building now recede into the background. It feels like the grounds of the museum have literally been extended. The museum building comes into its own again within this new setting.
In order to strengthen the theme of landscape, pathways and plaza areas have been reduced to a minimum. Linking the existing destinations, i.e. the museum and its grounds as well as the regional train station and parking lot, has resulted in a coherent network of paths that converge at the museum’s forecourt. In addition to the playground, other important destinations are the Stone Age Workshop, the Art Trail and the Animal Park, as well as the path to the Hochdahl S-Bahn station, which is being improved in order to make the journey to the museum by regional train even more attractive.
CLIENT: District of Mettmann with City of Erkrath, City of Mettmann and Neanderthal Museum Foundation
TIME FRAME: 2015-2020
CONSTRUCTION COSTS: approx. 2.8M euros (open space, net)
SIZE: approx. 20,000 m²
PROJECT: Service Phases 2–8
DESIGN WORKSHOP: 2014, 1st prize in the Museum Grounds and Neanderpark design workshop
Photography: Roman Mensing www.romanmensing.de