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 7531     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7531     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: Gharieni Group GmbH
We strive for a seamless integration of functional equipment to create an unparalleled and memorable experience for clients.
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
Manuelle Gautrand
"The cities where you have good cultural buildings and facilities – it’s a way for people to mix, to share the city in a much deeper way"

The French architect and winner of the 2017 European Prize for Architecture tells us why she is determined to surprise

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
The Three Sisters restaurant looks out onto the mountains
"Sam was such a champion for the team, and my goal is simply to carry that same torch"

As Blackberry Mountain resort opens in Tennessee, we find out why the project is a deeply personal one for owner Mary Celeste Beall

Francis graduated as a landscape architect in Belgium. He returned to Lebanon in 1993
"I believe gardens are where the soul rests"

With a focus on desert landscapes and collaborations with Zaha Hadid and OMA, the principal of Francis Landscapes has a deep belief in the power of nature

features
"The technology involved in paint is extraordinary"

Used cleverly, colour has the power to influence how people use the spaces they inhabit, says the creative director of Dulux

Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Dokk1 library and urban space in Aarhus, Denmark
"Most clients are very focused on how buildings are used and experienced as the primary design driver"

The MD of Schmidt Hammer Lassen and the CEO of PerkinsWill tell us why their merger will help create smarter buildings driven by human behaviour

cladkit product news
Matteo Thun grows Allaperto collection with new suspended outdoor armchair
Megan Whitby
Allaperto, the lounge collection spawned by the partnership between design studios, Matteo Thun, Ethimo and Antonio Rodriguez, has been expanded ...
Metalline transforms London hotel with bespoke aluminium fins
The aluminium fins will form the façade of the upcoming Minories Hotel in Aldgate, London
Lauren Heath-Jones
Metalline, an architectural metalwork specialist based in the UK, has created a range of bespoke 3D twisted metal fins for ...
XTU concept imagines life in the clouds
XTU's X Cloud concept is part of the Future and the Arts: AI, Robotic, Cities, Life - How Humanity Will Live Tomorrow exhibition at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo
Lauren Heath-Jones
XTU Architects, a Paris-based architecture firm, has released images and renderings of X Cloud, a new concept that showcase a ...
cladkit product news
Painting with Light pushes boundaries to create unforgettable visual concepts
The team combines lighting, video, sound and special effects, with scenic and architectural elements, to create unforgettable visual experiences
Megan Whitby
Belgium-based light and video design studio, Painting with Light, will translate the story of your location into a visual experience, ...
Tom Dixon collaborates with Prolicht to launch CODE lighting range
The product has three LED light sources: Dot, Dash and Grid
Megan Whitby
British designer, Tom Dixon, and Austrian architectural lighting specialists, Prolicht, have collaborated to unveil a new lighting range. Called CODE, ...
BIG partners with Louis Poulsen for new lighting collection
The Keglen collection is made up of four different pendants
Lauren Heath-Jones
BIG Ideas, the technology arm of renowned architecture firm Bjarke Ingles Group (BIG), has partnered with Danish lighting manufacturer Louis ...
cladkit product news
1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium celebrates Southampton FC's history
Rainbow Design worked closely with KSS Architects to ensure the furniture matched the design vision
Lauren Heath-Jones
KSS Architects has partnered with Rainbow Design, a London-based furniture supplier, to create the 1885 Lounge at St Mary's Stadium, ...
Barr + Wray to launch space saving hammam concept
Light shines through a striking central chandelier to create a feeling of movement
Katie Barnes
Smaller footprint. Maximum theatre. Those are the two main features of a new hammam concept being developed by wet spa ...
Daniel Svahn creates furniture collection using repurposed table tops
The Goodies But Oldies collection features three pieces made from repurposed MDF table tops
Lauren Heath-Jones
Daniel Svahn, a Stockholm-based furniture designer, has created a new range of sustainable furnishings, made from recycled MDF tabletops. Svahn, ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates