Dresden, a fairly small city near the German/Czech boarder, is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony and the proud owner of Daniel Libeskind’s latest creation. In a community flush with baroque and rococo architecture, Libeskind’s shard of glass, concrete and steel which penetrates the Dresden Museum of Military History suggests a new architectural direction for the historical city.
First formed in 1897 as a Saxon armory and museum, the magnificent Dresden Museum of Military History has adapted to a range of themes since opening, acting as a Nazi museum, a Soviet museum and an East German museum, reflecting the region's shifting political and social position over the last 135 years.
Of his jarring concept Libeskind explains: “It was not my intention to preserve the museum’s façade 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 organised violence and how military history and the fate of the city are intertwined.”
The silver projection bursts from the centre of the traditional building, creating a five storey, 140 tonne volume and offering a 98ft high viewing platform which overlooks the evolving city. Internally the exhibition space of the entire building is now 21,000 sq ft, making it the largest museum in Germany.
Behind Libeskind’s daring architectural concept is an underlying intention to alter the public’s perception of war. A combination of the abstract architecture and the internal exhibitions challenge visitors to the museum to consider the idea of war and violence from an anthropological direction, examining ‘the fears, hopes, passions, memories, motivations and instances of courage, rationality and aggression that have precipitated violence and, all too often, war’.