YIBANEH!  26 March until 29 August 2004

Jewish Identity in Contemporary Architecture

From 26 March to 29 August 2004 the Jewish Historical Museum presented the first international survey of architecture for Jewish institutions from the late twentieth century to the present day. Sixteen contemporary synagogues, Jewish museums and schools by leading architects were featured in fourteen pavilions. Each of the showcased designs was in itself extraordinary and reflected a growing sense of Jewish identity in innovative forms.

YIBANEH! The confidence radiated in recent years by clients and architects in exciting and enterprising building projects testifies to a new sense of Jewish awareness. While the architecture itself is remarkable, the locations are also often prominent and imbue each project with even greater force. This trend was first visible in the new generation of Jewish museum buildings, in particular Daniel Libeskind's revolutionary Jewish Museum in Berlin. Both inside and out, this building is an expression of Jewish history in Germany and the destruction of Jewish life in the Second World War. Exceptional designs have also been produced for synagogues and schools. Zvi Hecker's new community centre in Duisburg, for example, is on a prime location in the city and the complex's fan-like structure is not something that can easily be missed.

It took two generations after the war for this wave of innovation to emerge. Jewish communities have begun to grow and thrive again. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the arrival of many Russian Jews in the West provided an additional impulse. While in the past Jewish institutions had kept a low profile, this revival of Jewish life presented an opportunity for several groundbreaking architectural projects.

YIBANEH! (Hebrew for 'it will be built'), a Jewish Historical Museum initiative, will travel after Amsterdam to Osnabrück, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Munich and London. The design for the exhibition interior was by Kosmann.dejong. Included in the show was a film by Joram ten Brink in which architects and clients discuss the background to various projects in the presentation. The exhibition was accompanied by a bilingual catalogue (English/German) published by Uitgeverij Prestel, Munich.

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