Jim Forrester, director designate of the Imperial War Museum North, says he loves many buildings around the world, but that he only has eyes for his new workplace, which opens to the public tomorrow (5 July). It was quite a coup for Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council to secure Daniel Libeskind's first UK project (at least the first to be built), which faces Michael Wilford's Lowry across the Manchester Ship Canal.
The story goes that Libeskind brought a child's globe to his first client meeting and smashed it on the table, stating that war shatters lives and that his building would reflect this.Three stark, angry shards represent the three zones of conflict - land, air and water.'It's such an extraordinary building as a concept, but it's also so well executed, 'says Forrester.'It's essentially a sculpture and also functional - he hasn't shied away from that challenge. I love the spaces within it, that there is a certain disruption to the eye and an abstraction in every room.'
It may be the first time an architect has so thoroughly married form with content in a museum building - its restless, uncomfortable spaces are meant to make visitors consider the effects of war and conflict.'We are not pro-war or celebrating war, we are saying look at what war does to us, 'says Forrester. 'It may have been broken into pieces, but you can put it back together and it can still be beautiful and sculptural.
There is always a faction of humanity that wants to destroy our world but we can still cherish it.This is what this building is saying.'