Karl-Heinrich Müller (1936-2007)
Hombroich – An Open Experiment


The island is quintessentially feminine.
She gives birth, holds together, supports, serves and releases.
She is not a must, but a may.She is not either – or, but both – and.
She challenges everyone to come to terms with him- or herself daily.
She is not a masculine field for organization, hunting, accumulation, power and demonstration.


The events on the island were never predictable in advance, and usually not even imaginable. A whole range of things were gathered in, held together by an invisible skin; a network of people, ideas and work that were permitted to link up ever more firmly and closely, and able to expand. Perhaps the island can only be experienced, and not described.

Those involved in developing the island have a sense of the word we, despite all their essential difference. Different characters, temperaments and origins were held together by an invisible band of common basic attitudes and ideas of what may or may not be permitted to happen. When there were slips, this was regretted and forgiven. Difficulties that seemed insuperable were settled on the next day – just as storm-clouds disperse. Being kindred spirits makes activity on the island possible. Work held everyone and everything there together. Basically everyone is concerned to provide others with a platform for their ideas and work. Malicious petty jealousies, harsh criticism and emerging vanity often cast their shadow. But ultimately everyone went back to working for the cause. There was and is no hierarchy or pecking order. Carefully holding things together and modest expansion create natural growth.

Everyone involved in the island, old or young, has a strong personal life and a particular job. They stand on their own feet and have the willingness and the ability to manage without the island community. This individual strength makes chains and contracts on the island meaningless; it makes it possible to exchange giving and taking, without reckoning up more or less. Work on the island is not about competing with others who work elsewhere in similar fields. No one wants to do things better here than they do there. It is just different, and it is as people are.

The island is a small space on which people from all spheres of culture meet. Despite their cultural differences they feel and notice that they have something in common. It would be possible to exaggerate and say that it is a small universal cultural circle of Americans, Chinese, Europeans, Japanese and Russians who have grown up in and been shaped by a Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Orthodox or Taoist world. They are human beings first and foremost, they are not in a straitjacket, they follow no isms and they are aware of and responsible for their origins and background. They are not building a common home, but are committed to the things they have in common. Stable in themselves, they do not blur their personal boundaries. On the island they allot part of their work and their life to the life of the island, sometimes more, sometimes less, but always with affection.

Constant change and transformation are the essence of the island. This means that the future remains opaque. The participants have no conception of progress or aims. They know that there can be no standing still or moving backwards, and that the end remains open. The island is not to have a fixed form, but to remain changeable. Despite growth in terms of space it is possible to assert that the island has always increased by reduction and limitation. There are grounds for hope that this will remain the case and that the future will in all spheres bring people to the island who have the same basic ideas as those involved hitherto, and that subsequent generations will bring no less seriousness and love to the matter in hand.

The island’s growth was steady, without theoretical advanced planning. Infection with the island bacillus goes beyond its boundaries. The island proves that culture has many supporters. People from the worlds of commerce, politics and administration joined the germ cell created by fine artists, gardeners, composers, musicians and poets. They are all of equal significance for its emergence. Architects, scientists and personalities from various religious and ecological spheres followed. All of them are the island.

The island idea draws meaning from respect for nature by all, well above the extent that is usual today. The surrounding world and the shared world that nature makes for people is highly esteemed by everyone and forms an unspoken unit with work and ideas about life for all those involved. Nature on the island is not a different kind of park for people, but a homestead for animals and plants that man can meet. The reintroduction of nature on the left bank of the Erft — or in the newly acquired land leading to the Missile Station — was always done from this point of view. Not a private garden, but nature for all, plants, animals and people, is sought for and tended. Apparent chaos and excessive growth by the plants is a process that is not killed off, but allowed the greatest possible freedom.

What should all this be called: “Metaphorically ‘island’ or historically ‘Hombroich’, or do we await developments?” “Is the museum island in the foreground, or is it nature or the laboratory-like work that will in future determine the shape of the Missile Station and the landscape around it?” The more it develops, the more probable it becomes that Hombroich, the locality, will become the bearer of the name. A name will coin itself.

The individual cultural areas and the associated buildings have to be further developed. This will work out only if people who work spiritually are supported at the outset by an investor with an open heart and a personal love of music, religion, science or fine art. Erecting a building may not be an expense for the investor, but must be supported by a feeling of common interest in a particular matter. Understanding the whole makes it possible for the individual to have some input. Anyone who feels like an appendage will not contribute enough. Everyone must be quite sure of his or her position and his or her importance within the whole.Thanks are due to everyone involved in developing Hombroich and its liveliness for their thought, stamina, courage and attitude to the matter in hand, to their island: to the communal work that they all love.


The island tolerates and wants new people, women and men.
She entices, seduces and wins over, but demands service.
She pays tribute to being allowed.She trusts people who are in earnest.
She is a way of collecting communal experiences and results through a variety of experiments in different areas.
The island scarcely leaves room for masculinity.