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A synagogue opening like a book

Swiss architect Manuel Herz designed a new synagogue in Ukraine, implemented as part of the local Holocaust Memorial Foundation initiative. With its special structure, the new building evokes the analogy of pop-up books. Meet Babyn Jar!

The new Babyn Jar synagogue was handed over recently in Ukraine: the innovative and powerful building does not only help the local Jewish community as a place of worship but also stands as a reminder of the site’s history. These were the thoughts that inspired the architect to design the synagogue’s special, moveable structure, alluding to the notion of a book, a central feature in the Jewish religious service.

Babyn Yar, a wooded area west of Kyiv, was the site of one of the worst massacres to take place during World War II. In 1941, German troops killed more than 30,000 Jewish people there in just two days while a further 100,000 people met the same fate in Babyn Yar in the coming months. Since then, the area has changed a lot and was transformed into a city park from the former forest—this memorial is an important reminder of the events that took place there in the 1940s.

According to the architect, the idea of the book being an important tool, symbol and source of knowledge within the Jewish religion was mixed with a sense of playfulness: accordingly, the Babyn Jar synagogue mechanically opens up to become a sheltered space, then it can be closed into a flat, vertical form approximately eight meters wide and eleven meters high. The operation of the structure is just as important as its function: “The building is manually opened, and then unfolds into the three-dimensional space of the synagogue,” said Manuel in his interview with the Wallpaper. “The opening process is a collective ritual,” he highlighted.

The synagogue sits on a wooden platform. Its structure was made of oak and steel, while its interior is adorned by symbols and iconography, which are related to the Jewish faith and previous synagogues on site that have since been destroyed. 

Photos: Designboom, Wallpaper

Manuel Herz | Web

Source: Wallpaper

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