Topotek 1 wins RIBA contest to revamp War Museum grounds

The Imperial War Museum North has selected Berlin-based design studio Topotek 1 to develop the external spaces of the museum following a RIBA competition.

The brief asked for "zones of contemplation, creativity and play" to complement the famous Daniel Libeskind-designed building.

Topotek 1's original submission stated: "The camouflage patterns used by the military are an abstraction of landscapes of combat. These patterns represent a visual average of the natural environment: the muted green, brown, and ochre hues of typical camouflage are a graphic summary of wild and cultivated places. We wish to confront the global scale of war represented by the building with the local scale where battles are fought. War does not only re-configure lines on a world map, but changes everyday landscapes.

The submission went on: "We have selected four themes that represent the British landscape: stone, fields, water, and forest. Like the camouflage pattern, these landscapes are condensed into their essential character, and reconfigured in a system of gently tilting planes. This system provides a soft, horizontal, and continuous base for the museum; subtle shifts in elevation and angle accommodate a variety of programmes in a relatively small area. The landscape forms a collage of dignified spaces for reflection, gathering, and play that complements the gravity of the museum's content."

The new design will include a new quayside walkway with 24 -hour access across the water frontage, a landscaped garden built over the car-park to give elevated views of IWM North and Media City UK, a children's play area including sensory and kinetic elements, spaces for future exhibits and art installations and a water sculpture.

These designs are initial concepts and IWMN will now begin the task of fundraising and seeking partners to help realise the project.

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