Daniel Libeskind unveils secret seven-year design plans for Kurdistan Museum

by Kim Megson | 12 Apr 2016

Daniel Libeskind yesterday (11 April) publicly revealed for the first time that he has been developing a Kurdistan Museum in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.

The Polish American architect spoke out about the secretive, long-gestating project during an appearance at Bloomberg Design Week in San Francisco.

The project was commissioned by the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani – who approached Libeskind seven years ago through an intermediary – to tell the story of the Kurds and Kurdish culture. The project is a collaboration between the Kurdistan Regional Government (the KRG) and client representative RWF World.

If built, the museum will confront the horrors of Saddam Hussein’s genocidal attack on the ethnic group in the 1980s, along with other acts of oppression experienced by the Kurds over hundreds of years.

“The museum aims to convey the spirit of the Kurdish people, their rich culture and the future of Kurdistan,” said Libeskind. “The design had to navigate between two extreme emotions: sadness and tragedy, through the weight of history, and of joy and hope, as the nation looks to the future.”

Due to the political and religious sensitivities surrounding the project, Libeskind agreed to keep it secret for many years, and only shared details of the commission and his design with senior members of staff.

Explaining his decision to announce the project now, Libeskind told Bloomberg that the project is a response to continuing violence in the region and the rise of Islamic State, who have occupied Mosul, 30 miles west of Erbil, since 2014 and destroyed many heritage sites.

He said: “In a time of destruction, especially a time of cultural destruction, you have a desire to build,” adding that while a new museum can never compensate for such loss, it can tell people’s stories, preserve artefacts and change the narrative of conflict. “We watch helplessly as Palmyra [in Syria] is destroyed piece by piece,” he added. “We watch the destruction of world heritage. I thought, ‘You know, this is even more urgent now.’

“Architecture is not a military art, it’s not a political art. It’s planting a garden. It’s making a building. The power of architecture is the power to do something good.”

The museum has been envisioned as a 150,000sq ft (14,000sq m) structure surrounded by gardens at the foot of Erbil’s Citadel; a UNESCO World Heritage site. The design is composed of four irregular parts corresponding to the four countries where most Kurds live – Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria – taking inspiration from topographical maps and population densities. The roof will be an artistic composition designed to be looked at from the Citadel above.

The volumes are intersected by a line that is broken into two angular fragments, representing the past and future of Kurdistan. In a statement, Libeskind said: "The two fragments create an emotive duality: a heavy and opaque mass, the Anfal Line, which symbolises the genocide under Saddam Hussein; and the Liberty Line, a lattice structure filled with greenery that ascends towards the sky and culminates with an eternal flame – a powerful symbol in Kurdish culture."

The museum will feature exhibition spaces for both permanent and temporary exhibitions, a lecture theatre, multimedia educational resources, an extensive digital archive of Kurdish historical assets, a community centre and landscaped outdoor spaces for public use.

Gwynne Roberts, a journalist and filmmaker, will work with RWF World to create multimedia content for the museum based on oral histories from Kurds testifying to the violence they experienced. Other exhibits will showcase Kurdish textiles, pottery and music.

Outside, a courtyard is conceived as "a tranquil and meditative space at the heart of the museum", while a water feature will extend from the landscape through the museum, "bringing to mind the rivers and fertile valleys of Kurdistan."

The projected cost of the museum is reportedly $250m (€218.5m, £175m), although government funding is currently concentrated on the ongoing conflict and there is no timeframe for when the museum may be constructed. The KRG is inviting outside financial support for the project, which will only go ahead when the region is more stable.

Other members of the design team include British exhibition design firm Haley Sharpe Design, structural engineer Expedition, environmental engineers Atelier Ten, and the UK's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, who will consult on landscape and botany.

Daniel Libeskind  Kurds  Iraqi Kurdistan  Nechirvan Barzani  Erbil  architecture  design 
Related stories

Daniel Libeskind unveils vision for angular art museum in Lithuania

Daniel Libeskind creates iconic pyramid tower for the heart of Jerusalem

Jewish Museum Berlin unveils latest extension

Dresden's new-look military museum opens

Berlin's Jewish Museum to be extended

Libeskind chosen for World Trade Centre

Daniel Libeskind yesterday (11 April) publicly revealed for the first time that he has been developing a Kurdistan Museum in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region. The Polish American architect spoke out about the secretive, long-gestating project during an appearance at Bloomberg Design Week in San Francisco. The project was commissioned by the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani – who approached Libeskind seven years ago
CLD,VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES,DEV
The museum has been envisioned as a 150,000sq ft (14,000sq m) structure surrounded by gardens at the foot of Erbil’s Citadel / Hayes Davidson
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6988     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 6988     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: TVS Group
The TVS Group supply and install sports and fitness flooring to a wide range of facilities. We cater for every type of exercise and every level of competition, from recreational to elite level performance.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
Wellness: Hidden treasure
"True luxury is about preserving the soul of an incredible destination"

KimMegsonvisitstheaward-winning ChabléYucatánResort&Spa

Carlo Ratti
"Like other cultural institutions, libraries provide something that the internet cannot: genuine human interaction"

How excitingnewprojects arechanging theface oflibrarydesign

features
The new stadium was designed to create a sense of arrival for fans
Populous’ Christopher Lee has designed more than 30 stadia across five continents
"Our new stadium and wider scheme has been developed to deliver an unrivalled fan experience and significant benefits to our local community. We want to make this venue a world class sports and entertainment destination for everyone, in our birthplace of Tottenham - Daniel Levy, Tottenham Hotspur FC chair "

Tom Walker exploresthe storybehind TottenhamHotspur’sgroundbreakingnew footballstadium

The Gallery in Mourad Mazouz's Sketch is one of London's most instagrammed spaces
After working for Christian Liaigre in Paris, Mahdavi launched her practice in 1999
"I never thought it was a talent. I just did it very naturally, without thinking"

The ‘queen of colour’ on her nomadic childhood, being fearless and choosing the exact right shade of pink for the Sketch Gallery restaurant

features
Fu has a masters in architecture from Cambridge University
"I wanted to go deeper than the stereotypical concept of lanterns, junks and temples"

Drawing on his childhood memories for the St Regis Hong Kong

cladkit product news
Crown overhaul changing rooms at Saunton Sands spa
Crown Sports Lockers installed rain of Nebraska Oak clothes lockers with RFID Digilocks in the changing rooms
Lauren Heath-Jones
Saunton Sands Hotel in Devon, UK, has completed a £2m expansion of its spa and wellness facilities. The upgrade included ...
Tom Dixon Studio to relaunch iconic Pylon chair
Pylon was first designed more than 20 years ago
Lauren Heath-Jones
Originally conceived in his metal workshop in the early 90's, the Pylon chair was Dixon's attempt to create the world's ...
Paul Kelley pushes 'technical boundaries' with modular furniture cube system
The system is designed to enable users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, where they are in complete control of the design and function of their furniture
Lauren Heath-Jones
British designer Paul Kelley has created a modular magnetic cube furniture system that enables users to create multifunctional, adaptable pieces, ...
cladkit product news
Mater partners with Ditzel family to create eco-friendly furniture using reclaimed plastic
The furniture uses plastic from recycled fishing nets
Lauren Heath-Jones
Mater, an ethical design brand based in Denmark, has launched a furniture collection made from plastic reclaimed from the ocean. ...
Duravit launches Tempano shower trays
The Tempano trays feature a state-of-the-art design that combines a linear slope with a high drainage rate
Lauren Heath-Jones
Duravit, a Germany-based bathroom fixtures company, has launched Tempano, a series of easy-to-install shower trays for the home. Available in ...
Volvo partners with Reef Lab Designs to encourage ocean biodiversity
The tiles are made from marine-grade concrete and recycled plastic fibres
Lauren Heath-Jones
Car manufacturer Volvo has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and Reef Design Lab to create an environmentally-friendly ...
cladkit product news
Baux creates plant-based acoustic panels
Baux has worked with scientists from the Royal Institute of Technology to create Baux Acoustic Pulp, a plant-derived acoustic solution
Lauren Heath-Jones
Baux, an acoustic products brand based in Sweden, has developed a line of biodegradable acoustic panels, using a plant-based material ...
Alusid's Sequel collection combines craftsmanship and sustainability says founder
The Sequel collection is billed as the 'most waste-efficient and sustainable' on the market
Lauren Heath-Jones
Alusid, a creator of eco-friendly surfaces, has partnered with Parkside to launch the Sequel range, the brand's first collection of ...
BD Barcelona Design reveals Cristallo by the late Alessandro Mendini
Cristallo was the last design from acclaimed designer and architect Alessandro Mendini
Lauren Heath-Jones
Design Studio BD Barcelona Design has released Cristallo, a limited-edition cabinet designed by the late architect and designer Alessandro Mendini, ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates