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First Look: Topotek 1 adds to Libeskind's Imperial War Museum North

The competition to design the exterior spaces around Imperial War Museum North, completed in 2002 by Daniel Libeskind, has been won by Topotek 1

The international competition, organised by the RIBA, received over 50 entries which was whittled down to a shortlist of five including UK practices KLA and Patel Taylor. Once funding has been secured Berlin-based Topotek will collaborate with IWMN to develop its winning concept into a final scheme, the first stage of which is hoped to be completed in 2011 to coincide with the opening of MediaCity: UK, also based in Manchester.

IWMN Director, Jim Forrester commented at the beginning of the competition ‘Our stunning Libeskind building continues to generate much interest and argument, and now, with the next phase of the Quays regeneration underway, we are ready to make more of its setting. The challenge is to make the outside areas of the museum as striking, memorable and rewarding as the building and its displays already are. To achieve this we are looking for remarkable designers with ideas which will give even more substance to our mission’.

Topotek hope to fulfil these requirements with a new quayside walkway, landscaped garden, children’s play area and a water sculpture.

The concept for the exterior development is influenced by Libeskind’s ‘shattered globe’, Topotek explained: ‘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.’

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