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The architect, musician and photographer Gundolf Bruchhaus lives and works in Aachen and holds a professorship for architecture at the RWTH-Aachen. Since starting his studies, Bruchhaus has been particularly interested in the basic needs of life and living in very small spaces. He has enlarged upon these subject over the years via a number of journeys to the South Caucasian countries of the Middle East.
In 1992, one of his small buildings (2,85 m wide) was awarded the 1st place of modern architecture of the BDA (Association of German Architects). Even though he has never been a student of the Bauhaus in Dessau, it is obvious that Gundolf´s work has been strongly influenced by this particular architectural approach. It is this spirit that arises from the Eremitage too, the smallest room of the 18arts.
When I joined the 18arts project all the rooms had already been “taken” by the other participating artists, except for one small room in the attic. Initially, the chamber seemed to be way too small for a modern hotel room and its necessary furnishings. One had to fear a feeling of confinement would beset a potential guest. Therefore I was being asked to evaluate the possibilities.
Looking at the “construction site”, I was instantly reminded of the picture “The poor poet”, by Carl Spitzweg: a freestanding oven in an attic room, an umbrella at the ceiling, a campbed standing in the corner. It appeared to be a tempting project but, at the same time, extremely difficult to realize. This is especially true when you know that you have to integrate a shower or a bathtub, a sink and a toilet, in order to meet the necessary requirements of a hotel room. Although technically probably manageable, the spacious arrangement didn´t seem right. Well – “goodbye, poor poet”.
In my mind it had to be a place of retreat, an hermitage if you like, on the top floor of the building, given the fact that the 18arts hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Cologne. What a job for an architect – relinquishing the romantic idea of nostalgically characterized features in favour of a clear cut room concept that appears to be much bigger than what the measurable dimensions can actually provide.
This clarity was my pre-established aim. It (the clarity) should provide the guest with a feeling of spatial orientation, the tranquillity giving him the possibility to let his thoughts roam freely. Letting him be what he really is – a human being, the ultimate work of art.