Ghetto Fighters' House Museum,
Kibbutz Lohamei Haghetaot

Original architect: Samuel Bikeles

Client: Ghetto Fighters' House Museum
New addition: 1,500 sqm
Project architect: Keren Avni
Project Management: Barnea Engineering and Building Ltd.
Structural Engineering: Kidan Structural Engineering Ltd.

The Museum was built in the 50's by the founding of the Kibbutz, whose entire population were survivors of the holocaust. The members wanted to establish a place for ongoing testimony and education concerning the holocaust and the rebellion of the Warsaw Ghetto.
GFH was built as an active repository of first-hand testimonies and personal biographies, asking to memorize history as a continuous present, and to emphasize the relation between individual testimonies and the collective experience. The big narrative offered by other museums is here toned down into direct, subjective, spoken, intimate and unmediated meeting of the speakers and the listeners of the testimony. For us, the architectural task was clear, but rather unusual: how to maintain the existing building and to keep it as reverberation chamber of live testimonies, when the transmitters themselves are no longer there to meet the visitors and guide them through the building. In other words, the conceptual challenge was not to reproduce or simulate, but rather to re-enact the original situation of GFH.

Our architectural strategy –was to leave the building as-is, and to clear it of additions and elaborations that have accumulated over the years and brutally distorted Bikeles’ original plans. Into this renovated building,
we implanted a new autonomous steel structure that refers to Bikeles’
unbuilt dome structure, and creates a new central hall for the museum.
This hall is vertically connected to a memorial hall bellow and to a roof
terrace above.