“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.”
A decade after architect Daniel Libeskind’s iconic Jewish Museum opened in Berlin another Libeskind-designed German museum opens - Dresden’s Military History Museum. Although different in appearance, both projects have more common than it may seem at first sight. Both juxtapose avant-garde design and decidedly 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.
Daniel Libeskind’s design boldly interrupts the original building’s symmetry and is centered around an extension, a massive, five-story 14`700-ton wedge of concrete, steel and glass that cuts through the 135-year-old former arsenal’s structural order. A viewing platform within the the 99ft high tip of the wedge provides breathtaking views of modern Dresden while the wedge is pointing in the direction toward the source of the fire-bombs, creating a dramatic space for reflection.
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 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.
Exhibition: 10.000 sqm
Schematic design, Design, Planning
and Execution: Architekt Daniel Libeskind AG,
Contractor: Reese Lubic Wöhrlin Gesellschaft von Architekten mbH, Berlin (Germany)
M&E: Ipro Dresden (Germany)
Structural Engineer: GSE Ingenieur-Gesellschaft mbh, Berlin (Germany)
Landscape: Architect Dipl.-Ing. Volker von Gagern, Dresden (Germany)
Lighting Designers: Delux AG,
Fire protection: Ingenieurbuero Heilmann,
Facade: Josef Gartner GmbH,
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