Dresden’s Military History Museum / Daniel Libeskind

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Studio

Daniel Libeskind’s Military History Museum opens today in Dresden. “I wanted to create a bold interruption, a fundamental dislocation, to penetrate the historic arsenal …” – Daniel Libeskind, 2011

“It was not my intention to preserve the museum’s facade and just add an invisible extension in the back. I wanted to create a bold interruption, a fundamental dislocation, to penetrate the historic arsenal and create a new experience. The architecture will engage the public in the deepest issue of how organized violence and how military history and the fate of the city are intertwined.”—Daniel Libeskind

Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Location: Dresden,
Text: Provided by Studio Daniel Libeskind
Project Year: 2011
Photographs: Bitter Bredt, Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen, Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

A decade after Daniel Libeskind’s iconic Jewish Museum opened in Berlin another Libeskind-designed German museum will open – Dresden’s Military History Museum. The projects are more alike than they appear.

Both juxtapose aggressively avant-garde design and decidedly pre-modernist structures. Both demand a renewed emotional and intellectual focus on history. Both attempt to make sense of the seemingly senseless – of war, violence, destruction and hatred. Says Libeskind, “The destruction of Europe and European cities by the Nazis is part of the story of the destruction of Dresden. One cannot separate the Shoah and the museums that deal with memories from the history of Germany and Dresden.”

model © Studio Daniel Libeskind

Libeskind’s extension to Dresden’s Military History Museum dramatically interrupts the building’s symmetry, its massive, five-story 200-ton wedge of glass, concrete and steel slicing through the center of the 135-year-old original structure. The new façade’s openness and transparency pushes through the opacity and rigidity of the existing building just as German democracy pushed aside the country’s authoritarian past.

©Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

The museum’s redesign creates the setting for a reconsideration of that past in a city annihilated by allied bombing at the end of WWII. Inside the wedge a 99 foot viewing platform provides breathtaking views of the city as it is today while the wedge itself points in the opposite direction, toward the source of the bombs, creating a dramatic space for reflection. Says Libeskind, “Dresden is a city that has been fundamentally altered. The events of the past are not just a footnote; they are central to the transformation of the city today.” Inside, in the original, columned part of the building, German’s military history is presented in chronological order. But now it is complemented, in the new wide-open spaces of the five-story wedge, by a new thematic consideration of the societal forces and human impulses that create a culture of violence.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

The redesigned Dresden Museum of Military History is now the official central museum of the German Armed Forces. It will house an exhibition area of roughly 21,000 square feet, making it Germany’s largest museum.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

OVERVIEW
Since its 1897 founding, the Dresden Museum of Military History has been a Saxon armory and museum, a Nazi museum, a Soviet museum and an East German museum. Today it is the military history museum of a unified and democratic Germany, its location outside the historic center of Dresden having allowed the building to survive the allied bombing campaign at the end of World War II.

elevation © Studio Daniel Libeskind

In 1989, unsure how the museum would fit into a newly unified German state, the government decided to shut it down. By 2001 feelings had shifted and an architectural competition was held for an extension that would facilitate a reconsideration of the way we think about war.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

Daniel Libeskind’s winning design boldly interrupts the original building’s symmetry. The extension, a massive, five-story 200-ton wedge of glass, concrete and steel, cuts through the 135-year-old former arsenal’s structural order. A 99-foot high viewing platform provides breathtaking views of modern Dresden while pointing in the opposite direction toward the source of the fire-bombs, creating a dramatic space for reflection.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

The new façade’s openness and transparency contrasts with the opacity and rigidity of the existing building. The latter represents the severity of the authoritarian past while the former reflects the openness of the democratic society in which it has been reimagined. The interplay between these perspectives forms the character of the new Military History Museum.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

“The dramatic extension is a symbol of the resurrection of Dresden from its ashes. It is about the juxtaposition of tradition and innovation, of the new and the old. Dresden is a city that has been fundamentally altered; the events of the past are not just a footnote; they are central to the transformation of the city today.”- Daniel Libeskind

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

KEY MESSAGES
1. Changing Perspective – The MHM offers different perspectives on German military history. The architecture, the new thematic exhibition and the redesigned permanent (chronological) exhibition represent both traditional and new forms of perception and expression. The juxtaposition of tradition and innovation, of old and new interpretations of military history, is the cornerstone of the new approach.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

2. Cultural History of Violence – The MHM offers visitors a history of the German military. But it goes beyond uniforms and weapons in its investigation state-controlled violence, offering new ways of assessing that history and the culture of violence that gave rise to it.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Holzer Kobler Architekturen

3. The Central Theme is the Human Being – The central theme of the MHM’s architecture and exhibition design is an anthropological consideration of the nature of violence. The museum closely examines the fears, hopes, passions, memories, motivations and instances of courage, rationality and aggression that have precipitated violence and, all too often, war.

© Bitter Bredt Courtesy of Studio Daniel Libeskind

4. Museum as Forum – In addition to presenting current and historical topics in special exhibitions and events, the MHM will host screenings, lectures and international symposia.

model © Studio Daniel Libeskind

5. A New Museum District – Once a prosperous and heavily visited area, Dresden’s Albertstodt district, in which the museum is located, has been deserted for some time. The new MHM will be the catalyst that turns the district into an international destination, a cultural center and a museum district. Made add’l change

Text provided by Studio Daniel Libeskind.

rendering © Studio Daniel Libeskind
Cite: "Dresden’s Military History Museum / Daniel Libeskind" 14 Oct 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 02 Aug 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=172407>

49 comments

  1. Thumb up Thumb down +5

    Daniel Libeskind: License to Kill buildings.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    looks like a very very graphic killing of ancient building… how could someone let him project and build something like this???

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  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    It’s nice to see that Libeskind was able to leave the tired and repetitive triangulated crystal motif behind and respond in an an original and creative way for a change.

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      Dear James,
      Hitler also did exactly as he promised in his written works… I do not have enough words to describe how wrong and catastrophic can be Liebeskind’s architectural work. It is absolutely hideos and out of any esthetic sense and you don’t need any knowledge of architectural theory to figure this out. This person had a very sad childhood!!!!

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    Are any of you familiar with Dresden’s history? I presume most of you are not.

    I find the architecture to be appropriate when thought of in the context of the firebombings. It evokes the history of the hundreds of destroyed “historical” buildings. It’s a simple, expressive, yet very Liebeskind move.

    Go read Slaughterhouse IV – or anything other than architecture related texts.

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  10. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    Congratulations Daniel, you came up with another pseudo-explanation for your design that you clearly construed afterwards. When will you realize that you can’t just get away with building random triangle shapes EVERY SINGLE TIME?

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  14. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    It’s the architectural equivalent of inserting a guitar solo in a Mozart symphony, of mixing junk food with caviar, of putting gasoline in the champagne. Yes, it gets attention by providing cheap contrast, but dissonance, disharmony and chaos are not the same as good design. Libeskind’s cheap effects merely emphasise what an amateur hack he really is.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    For over a decade, Libeskind has been peddling hokum of the lowest intellectual caliber. Given how predictable and superficial he and his portfilio of wedges and shards has become, you have to wonder at the level of gullibility of anyone who still takes him seriously.

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  17. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    Dear Mr. Libeskind, please, for the love of God. Stop sticking your pointy-bits into nice old buildings, they deserve better!

  18. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    The worst thing you could say about any architectural design would be to describe it as “Libeskindesque”. It would be a term of revulsion.

  19. Thumb up Thumb down -2

    Same old crystal form, just a different excuse from Libeskind. Could he be any more bereft of ideas?

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  21. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    No real architect was involved in this amateurish mess. It must be something “designed” by Nina, or maybe by the janitor in Libeskind’s office. It’s too crude for anyone with an eye for aesthetics.

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