Daniel Libeskind has unveiled plans for The Kurdistan Museum in Erbil, Iraq. With the building, Studio Libeskind seeks to create “the first major center in the Kurdistan Region for the history and culture of the Kurdish people.” The project was developed as a collaboration between the Kurdistan Regional Government (the KRG) and client representative RWF World. The 150,000 square-foot museum will feature exhibition spaces for both permanent and temporary exhibitions, a lecture theatre, state-of-the-art multimedia educational resources, an extensive digital archive of Kurdish historical assets, as well as community center and landscaped outdoor spaces for public use.
“The museum aims to convey the spirit of the Kurdish people, their rich culture and the future of Kurdistan,” says Daniel 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.”
Situated at the base of an ancient Citadel in the center of Erbil, the museum’s shape is created from four interlocking geometric volumes that represent the regions of Kurdistan: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey. A line that intersects the volumes, creating angular fragments, is meant to represent the past and future of the region and Kurdish people. “The two fragments," says Studio Libeskind, "create an emotive duality: a heavy and opaque mass, the Anfal Line, which symbolizes 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.” A courtyard space at the juncture of the lines refers to those found in the Citadel and throughout the city of Erbil, and a river feature that runs through the museum is meant to evoke the waterways and fertile valleys of the Kurdish region.
The KRG hopes that the museum project will be completed once the region has stabilized and the threat from fighting ISIS is minimized. As the KRG’s financial resources have been drained in this struggle, the organization is seeking outside funding to complete the project.
Studio Libeskind (US) Architect, Haley Sharpe Design (UK) Exhibition Designer, Expedition (UK) Structural Engineer, Atelier Ten (US) Mechanical and Environmental Engineer, Jackson Coles (UK) Project Managers, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK) Consultants for Landscape and Botany, RWF World (UK/Iraq) Development, Management and Content Production, and Tim Renwick, Project Director (London Eye, London 2012 Olympic Village)