Leading architect Daniel Libeskind talks on how buildings are associated with commemoration

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

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On Friday 9 February, Oxford Brookes University will welcome international figure in architecture and urban design Daniel Libeskind for a sold-out lecture.

Libeskind will be speaking about the planning and construction of some of his most remarkable buildings and how they are associated with memory and commemoration.

One of the world’s foremost architects, Libeskind is best known for designing iconic buildings such as the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Danish Jewish Museum, the Imperial War Museum North; and the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site in New York City.

Libeskind commented: “Without memory we would not know where we are going or who we are. Memory is not a sideline for architecture; it’s the fundamental way to orient the mind, the emotions, and the soul.”

The anniversary activities in the UK, Europe, the United States and across the world have demonstrated that war remembrance resonates with human needs and inspires imaginations.

Dr Niall Munro, Senior Lecturer in American Literature, Oxford Brookes University

Libeskind believes that buildings are crafted with perceptible human energy, and that they communicate the greater cultural context in which they are built. His commitment to expanding the scope of architecture reflects his profound interest and involvement in philosophy, art, literature and music.

In his lecture, he will share his creative process and thinking for many of his most prominent buildings including the Military History Museum in Dresden and the recent Holocaust memorials in Canada and the Netherlands.

The lecture is part of the Post-War: Commemoration, Reconstruction, Reconciliation seminar series organised by Oxford Brookes University and the University of Oxford, which brings together leading figures in the arts and politics to discuss how best we can commemorate war.

Over the academic year 2017/18, a number of seminars are being held involving academics from many different fields, politicians, diplomats and others who have played a role in peace negotiations and commemoration events. They are joined by novelists, poets, artists and musicians whose work has marked war in some way.

The researchers are studying developments like the new Holocaust memorial in London, and discussing how they were received and what they mean. Dr Niall Munro, Senior Lecturer in American Literature at Oxford Brookes University says that it is the perfect time for the series, given the recent large-scale commemorations of the First World War and the American Civil War.

“The anniversary activities in the UK, Europe, the United States and across the world have demonstrated that war remembrance resonates with human needs and inspires imaginations,” said Dr Munro.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to consider what was experienced in the various anniversary events, and what they can tell us about how war is remembered – and forgotton.”

Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, Kate McLoughlin added that there is no better time to think about the future of commemoration:

“Our series is a great example of the value of humanities. At a time when the public’s attention is focused on a number of major anniversaries, we have a real opportunity to bring together creative practitioners, academics and leaders in the cultural sector, the charitable sector and government, to think about how we can do commemoration better.

“Participants so far in the series have included novelists, poets, psychiatrists, anthropologists and activists – architecture will add a further dimension to the discussions.”

Based on discussions in the series, a report will be delivered to the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The series is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in memory of John E. Sawyer. More information can be found on the seminar series’ website.