Libeskind responds to Maze prison controversy
Daniel Libeskind has refuted claims his £18 million design for the Peace-building and Conflict Resolution Centre (PbCRC) at the former Maze Prison in Northern Ireland fails to acknowledge the complexity of attitudes towards the site, where 10 hunger strikers died in the 1980s
In a letter to the AJ, Libeskind said: ‘The design concept for the PbCRC evolved after extensive engagement with key stakeholders who were subsequently formed into six reference groups: arts and archives; victims and survivors; civic society; public services; first-responders and ex-prisoners; and education. This was a comprehensive approach to build trust, support, advice and to create a mandate that would drive the process of development and the process of design.
‘We believe that our design reflects an incremental process that is very much like the Northern Ireland Peace Process itself. The design was driven by people’s aspirations, it was appreciated and endorsed, and it has now received planning permission.
He added: ‘I did not say that the design of the Centre should reflect any particular group’s story. I listened extensively to the multiple perspectives presented and what I said was, “All stories should be told,” which has been everyone’s goal from the start.
‘For Studio Daniel Libeskind this project is incredibly meaningful. It is our belief that this process, design and project sends a message about the possibility of a future beyond conflict.’
Criticising the £18 million scheme, AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto in an opinion article (AJ 02.05.13) said: ‘Libeskind says he “always believed architecture is a story-telling profession” and, despite confusion in the province over how - or if - the centre will remember 10 men who died during the republican hunger strikes at the prison in 1981, their particular story was one he wants his building to tell.
‘The problem is, unlike the Holocaust, … there’s no consensus on that specific matter, nor much else that happened during Northern Ireland’s long sectarian war.’
Belfast-based McAdam Design with Daniel Libeskind was appointed to design the project August last year.
Planned to open in 2015, the 4,500m² scheme will be located on the grounds of the jail’s former ‘H-blocks’ which were used to house paramilitaries.
The scheme is the latest development for the controversial 140 hectare site where a multi-sport stadium bid by HOK failed six years ago.
Studio Egret West has submitted plans for a new 28 hectare headquarters for the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society which will be next to Libeskind and McAdam’s 9.7 hscheme.