Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a memorial in Berlin, Germany which was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and the engineer Buro Happold. The memorial is made up of a 4.7 acre lot covered with 2,711 extruded concrete boxes. Each of these "stelae" are of varying height, and range from only several inches off the ground to over 15 feet tall. These stelae are arranged in a grid on the site, which has been manipulated to form undulating waves. The site and the stelae, according to Eisenman, are designed to produce an uneasy feeling and to create a sense of lost control. Although this memorial is designed to remind people of suffering and loss, it also serves a very different purpose, one which I observed upon visiting the memorial: it acts as a playground for youths in Berlin. Most photographs which I had seen of this memorial to date were of the site devoid of people. However, on the day that I visited the site, it was actually filled with people, particularly children. These people were enjoying the site in a way that I did not expect; they were running through the gridded field of stelae and having a great time. Each row of stelae line up perfectly, and create a great place for hide-and-go-seek. I found myself getting lost in the rows and rows of concrete blocks too. This is just another way that I have found architecture to be used in ways that we may not expect it to be.

Janis Fowler

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