Architecture is more than just brick and mortar, it’s actually a language. Just as any living creature communicates, our buildings communicate with us. A building communicates by creating vivid experiences. A building is similar to a man, some are dull and boring whereas some are interesting and engrossing. A similar example of an architect creating great experiences with the help of various emotions in his structures is Daniel Libeskind.
The museum is an extension of the old Jewish museum established in 1933. The main purpose of his structure was to connect people with the pains and struggles made by the Jewish people in Germany. The building footprint was created by deconstructing the star of David. By allowing its form to twist and fold back in plan, the structure is creating courtyards within its boundaries resembling a typical courtyard layout of early buildings in Berlin.
Both the museums appear to be two separate buildings but the entrance of the new extension building is from the interiors of the old baroque building. While entering the new museum one experiences the feeling of anxiety when they lose a direction at the same time hiding from someone in the dark, as the Jews used to experience during the Nazi phase-in Germany. After entering the structure, the first thing a visitor comes across is a crossroad of three routes, of which only two are visible at a time. Each route leads to a traumatic experience of the pains of Jewish people.
The first route leads to an art gallery via a long staircase leading towards the upper floors. The second and third route is headed towards the holocaust tower and the garden of exile respectively. Libeskind creates a promenade that follows the “zig-zag” formation of the building for visitors to walk through and experience the spaces within.
The interior of the structure is much more complex than the exterior. Libeskind’s zig-zag formation leads people to galleries, empty spaces, and dead ends. The extension had differentiating materials, which made the spaces more realistic and this also increased the connection of the people with the spaces. With the help of reinforced concrete in the interiors, Libeskind reinforces the moments of the empty spaces and dead ends where only a ray of light is entering the space. With this he makes the visitors experience the situation of Jewish people during WWII, that how a ray of light restores the hope even in the darkest moments.
A 66 feet tall void that runs through the entire building plays an important role in creating one of the most emotional and powerful experience. It is made of concrete walls with a light penetrating through small slits at the top of the space. The ground is covered in 10,000 coarse iron faces because iron resembles the smell of blood. This symbolizes the lives lost in the Holocaust chambers and the visitors feel as if they are walking over the dead bodies of these people.
Libeskind’s extension leads out into the Garden of Exile where once again the visitors feel lost among 49 tall concrete pillars that are covered with plants. The garden is a perfect square, which is tilted in a particular angle where the ground is filled with pebbles, this makes the visitor experience the pain of the Jewish people when they are lost and confused, but once looking up to an open sky there is a moment of exaltation. Libeskind’s Jewish Museum is an emotional journey through history. The architecture and the experience are a true testament to Daniel Libeskind’s ability to translate human experience into an architectural composition.
“The Jewish Museum is conceived as an emblem in which the Invisible and the Visible are the structural features which have been gathered in this space of Berlin and laid bare in an architecture where the unnamed remains the name which keeps still.” – Daniel Libeskind.