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Peter Zumthor's ‘Topography of Terror’

Médium: article de revue
Langue(s): en 
Publié dans: arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, , n. 2, v. 18
Page(s): 110-122
DOI: 10.1017/s1359135514000426

This paper discusses Peter Zumthor's project for the Topography of Terror foundation in Berlin, an institution that aims to research, and communicate, the atrocity of Nazi crimes and to work against the forgetting of history. The site where Topography of Terror is based, in the centre of the city, once housed the major institutions from which the Third Reich wrought terror over Europe and from where genocide was organised /1/. It is thus a unique site where the victims are absent and the perpetrators cannot be commemorated: the primary challenge in dealing with the site.

In the late autumn of 2004, Zumthor's project came to an unfortunate end. After eleven years of planning, arguing and constructing, the authorities of Berlin decided to abandon the partially constructed Topography of Terror building and to commission an alternative, while newspapers speculated about spiralling costs, technical problems and the disagreements of those involved. Eventually, in December of the same year, the early stages of Zumthor's construction were demolished. Nevertheless, the project's unique approach to history and remembrance should be discussed further. Unlike most memorials, Zumthor's project did not seek to represent a historical event mimetically or allegorically, but rather tried to embody the limits of representation by confronting the visitor with a non-representational approach to history.



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