“I always seek to think of—what has been repressed in memory on a site? What are the voices that are whispering to us across an abyss?”
Daniel Libeskind, a Polish-born, American-grown architect is an artist when it comes to visualizing the past through structure. His ability to apply a modernist style while remaining inventive, visionary, and almost playful makes him a distinguished patron of his field. In terms of his field, we mean his own arena within architecture entirely—a special subset for those who capture the often catastrophic and lingering slivers of a site’s history, all while provoking thought and open dialogue on possible futures.
Of all Libeskind’s structures sprinkled across the globe—including the Denver Art Museum, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Military History Museum in Dresden, the Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, and the Imperial War Museum North in Manchester—it’s his work on Ground Zero’s master plan that expresses his intention with intense clarity. The reconstructed site in Lower Manhattan generates an immediate feeling of preserved voice and a resounding quietness that feels loud. It’s a comment on the preservation of the past, but the inevitability of time and the unfolding future—a concept brought to life by the ongoing disappearance of water through two apparent sinkholes in the earth.
His current project is similar in ambition, and it’s called “Facing Gaia.” “Gaia” meaning “the living earth,” as a comment on the crisis of climate change and our deteriorating planet, in which resources are running out. The structure will be located in Giardini Marinaressa in Venice, Italy, and promises to visualize the strain and intersectionality between nature, humanity, and technology.
Libeskind speaks more on this in a recent short film created by PLANE—SITE, a global agency working at the interface of urban form, cultural space and social life. The video is one of many in their series, TIME SPACE EXISTENCE.