Studio Libeskind designs angular Kurdish museum rich with symbolism

The museum consists of four geometric volumes separated by somber and uplifting divisions.

April 12, 2016 |
Studio Libeskind designs angular Kurdish museum rich with symbolism

Rendering: Hayes Davidson. Click here to enlarge.

A new museum designed by Studio Libeskind will honor the Kurdish people, the largest ethnic minority group in Iraq, and their heritage. This week, the plans were unveiled for The Kurdistan Museum, a 150,000-sf facility in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq.

Located at the base of the ancient Citadel mound, the museum will have permanent and temporary exhibition space, a lecture theater, a community center, and landscaped outdoor areas. It will also have a digital archive of Kurdish historical assets.

“The museum aims to convey the spirit of the Kurdish people, their rich culture and the future of Kurdistan,” architect Daniel Libeskind said in a statement. “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.”

Symbolism is woven into the museum’s layout. The building has four sections that represent each of the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq. They are then split by two angular intersections, which Studio Libeskind says represents the past and future of Kurdistan. 


Anfal (left) and Liberty Lines. Anfal rendering: Studio Libeskind. Liberty rendering: Crystal. Click image to enlarge.


The Anfal Line is heavy and dark, which brings to mind the genocide under Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The Liberty Line is sanguine, with a lattice with greenery and an eternal flame. A courtyard for picnics and performances is situated in between the Anfal and Liberty Lines.

The firm says that the museum is just a plan for now. Not only does the Kurdistan government need to secure funding, but “the Kurds in Iraq are currently engaged in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS),” Studio Libeskind said in a statement. “The construction of the museum will begin once the region is stabilized and the threat posed by ISIS is minimized.”

Dezeen points out that plans for the museum have been in the works since 2010.


Rendering: Hayes Davidson. Click image to enlarge.

Rendering: Hayes Davidson. Click image to enlarge.

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