While there was an appetite for children’s programming at the Jewish Museum Berlin, the emotional weight of the museum’s exhibits was difficult for young visitors to navigate. Inspired by the pioneering vision of Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, which underscores the importance of diversity, community, and second chances, ANOHA—The Children’s World of the Jewish Museum Berlin seeks to give the museum’s youngest guests a sense of hope and possibility through a world of imagination and play. Here children are encouraged to forge connections with one another and work together to create an empathetic future.
When the Jewish Museum Berlin hosted its design competition in 2016, Germany had distinguished itself among European nations by accepting nearly 1 million refugees. This national agenda of welcoming and acceptance resonated strongly with the Olson Kundig team, led by Design Principal Alan Maskin. Maskin and his team envisioned the new museum as a place where children of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, ages and physical abilities would feel welcomed and accepted. The Jewish Museum Berlin’s competition attracted more than 100 submissions, with Olson Kundig selected as the winner.
Constructed as a modern structure within an historic one, ANOHA—the Children’s World of the Jewish Museum Berlin is located within an existing former flower market hall directly opposite the existing Jewish Museum Berlin. At the heart of ANOHA is a circular wooden ark, standing almost 23 feet (7 meters) tall with a 92-foot (28-meter) base diameter. The 6,300-square-foot (585-square-meter) modern ark is inspired by two seemingly disparate sources: an ancient Sumerian text discovered a decade ago that describes a circular ark, and Space Station V, a ship from Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The curvilinear ark complements the curved ribs of the Brutalist light scoops overhead, while the shift in materiality from concrete to wood offers a softening counterpoint to the existing space.
Interactive exhibits placed along an intuitive visitor pathway teach children how to solve problems independently and as a group, while explorative spaces modeled after unique habitats allow children to experience the diverse perspectives of the various animals. Within ANOHA’s world of imaginative roleplay, children may pretend to feed and groom the animal sculptures, then clean up after them and compost their waste to feed the soil, introducing a sense of stewardship in the natural world as outlined by the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam, or “world repair.”
Building on the Skirball Cultural Center’s model, more than 150 sculptural animals populate ANOHA’s ark, each created from found objects by a team of 18 German artists. This approach encourages children to consider the importance of recycling and adaptive re-use, while supporting ANOHA’s core philosophy of creativity and imagination. The tactile nature of these sculptural objects and the sense of playful discovery as children recognize the familiar materials used to make them further serve to highlight the importance of respecting and treasuring global resources.
Sustainable strategies rarely seen in museum buildings are embedded in the architectural design as an integral part of the user experience. Extensive mechanical systems are eliminated thanks to the environmental buffer of the existing hall, significantly lowering energy loads. Ceiling fans and operable windows in the ark allow for air exchange with the surrounding hall. Overhead, clerestory windows in the market hall roof incorporate operable louvers to facilitate natural ventilation, controlled by sensors that monitor temperature and air quality. The hall’s curved concrete roof forms also serve to draw daylight into the interior. The ark’s windows support this passive daylighting approach, while visually connecting ANOHA with the existing structure of the hall.
Completed: 2020; June 2021 public opening
Size: Ark is 6,296-square-foot (585-square-meter), standing almost 23 feet (7 meters) tall with a 92-foot (28-meter) diameter
Olson Kundig Project Team: Alan Maskin, Design Principal; Stephen Yamada-Heidner, AIA, LEED® AP, Project Manager; Martina Bendel, Project Architect; Jerome Tryon and Ryan Botts, Architectural Staff
Labs von Helmolt, Local Site Manager; Architekturbüro Engelbrecht, Local Architect; IGLHAUT + von GROTE, Local Exhibit Designer; IBPM GmbH - Projektsteuerung, Owner’s Representative; EiSat GmbH, Structural Engineer; Rentschler und Riedesser GmbH, Mechanical and Plumbing Engineer; Ingenieurbüro für Elektrotechnik (IfE) Grothe GmbH, Electrical Engineer; Blieske Architects Lighting Designers, Lighting Design; Transsolar KlimaEngineering, Natural Ventilation Concept / Climate Engineer; Kubix GmbH, Animal Construction
• Arie van Riet (artistic x-ray images of various animals in the security area)
• Dieter Braun (large illustrations throughout the museum)
• Andrea Übelacker (“world puzzle” art project, produced in collaboration with elementary school children grades 1-3)
• Gunilla Jähnichen and Tine Steen (collaborative Noah’s Ark film project in the foyer)
• Wolfram Spyra (sound artist for installations in the foyer and Rain Room, sound artist and developer of the sound islands in the Flood Room)
• Martin Böttger (water animation in the Flood Room)
• Anne Metzen, Annika Statkowski, Armin Benz, Beate Kelm, Conny Helm, Falk Starke, Frants Rodvalt, Gisbert Barmann, Gunnar Zimmer, Heiko Helm, Jan Schroeder, Jens Prockat, Jochen Müller, Jörg Hilbert, Maria Bahra, Matthias Garff, Myriell Kohrs, Nina Schrader and Thomas Raditschnig (animals)
While there was an appetite for children’s programming at the Jewish Museum Berlin, the emotional weight of the museum’s exhibits was difficult for young visitors to navigate. Inspired by the pioneering vision of Noah's Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, which underscores the importance of diversity, community, and second chances, ANOHA—The Children’s World of the Jewish Museum Berlin seeks to give the museum’s youngest guests a sense of hope and...
- Year 2021
- Work finished in 2021
- Status Completed works
- Type Museums