BIG’s Refugee Museum of Denmark captures the stories of those displaced by conflict
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•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : May 10, 2023
The National Museum of the United States Navy or US Navy Museum with over 60 years of history is the only museum in the country presenting an overview of US naval history. With an array of collections displayed through permanent and temporary exhibitions, the museum holds memories of the Navy’s wartime heroes, battles, peacetime contributions, diplomacy, space flights, and navigations. As the Navy moves to a more explorative future, the US Navy Museum also adopts a new face, identity, and architecture. In April 2023, the Secretary of Navy Carlos Del Toro, unveiled conceptual renderings from five architecture firms at the National Museum of the US Navy, finalising the Navy's 'Artistic Ideas Competition.' The finalists include Bjarke Ingels' BIG, DLR Group, Frank Gehry’s Gehry Partners, Perkins&Will and Quinn Evans.
As per SECNAV's October 2022 announcement, the new museum is proposed to be located near the Washington Navy Yard in the United States. Following this, Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) moved forward with its conceptual development phase and initiated the ideas competition in an effort to explore the full realm of artistic ideas. With over 80 firms expressing interest and 37 submitting qualifications, the Navy selected the five finalists. "We are pleased to display five visions for the future of the National Museum of the US Navy. While each concept is different, all of them show how we might celebrate our Navy's accomplishments, honour our veterans and point the way toward the Navy's future,” said Del Toro, Secretary of the Navy.
For the valuation of the Navy, the firms developed conceptual proposals that dive into a museum entrance, an atrium, a ceremonial courtyard, and the incorporation of some of the Navy’s larger artefacts, such as a Corsair aircraft, a Swift Boat, and the sail of a submarine. The Navy’s vision for the future includes a new building expanding public access and the potential renovation of existing historic buildings. The planned museum campus would consist of approximately 25000 sqm and include about 9000 sqm of net gallery space.
Defining the concept for the museum design, Bjarke Ingels Group mentions, “Our vision, developed in collaboration with Squint/Opera and Olin Studio, reflects the historical context of the Navy Yards while referencing the scale, materials, and details of Navy vessels. An array of large-scale vitrines open up towards a public street, welcoming visitors and locals with an impressive glimpse into the museum’s collection of artefacts inside and outside, conveying the mission, lineage and breadth of operations that constitute the US Navy." DLR Group's proposal revolves around the concept of the relationship between water, sky and space. “Our vision for the museum includes water features at the building's foundation, entry, and ceremonial courtyard. The facets of the building's form are envisioned to reflect the ground plane and its terraces on multiple levels with water or sky,” shares DLR Group.
Quinn Evans's museum architecture explores the meeting point of sea and land, similar to the Navy and the port. They envisioned a space that would bring together the community and the Navy, connecting people to the institution and its importance in society. Perkins&Will's concept celebrates the courage, strength, and resilience of the Navy, inviting visitors on a highly interactive, experiential journey through the Navy’s past, present, and future. Gehry Partners, owing to the fact that Frank Gehry himself is a veteran, proposed a design that devotes to the essence of the US Navy and its ideologies. Referencing the film series Top Gun, Gehry creates a design that translates architecture into a medium of storytelling.
"The concepts unveiled today are a crucial step in exploring what is possible for the new National Museum of the U.S. Navy. We’ll tell the story of the Navy’s history as it continues to unfold, and the ideas developed by our finalists herald a new way of honouring that history by inviting visitors to participate,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, US Navy rear admiral (retired). According to Charles Swift, acting director of the Museum of the United States Navy, who oversaw the competition, “These concepts mark an important step in the museum building process. These ideas and concepts show what might be possible for a new museum. We have a number of steps we need to complete before determining a final design, and that first step is having a conversation with America: our Navy, our veterans and our nation, about what we have presented today.”
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