Lighting Remembrance

This week begins with Holocaust Remembrance Day, continues the events for Remembrance Day for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, and finally ends with Israel's Independence Day celebrations.


The architecture of commemoration in Israel and around the world seeks to remind visitors to museums, monuments and various memorial sites what was and what is not. The challenge is not simple – conveying a message and creating a specific experience using architectural tools. No wonder many choose to use different elements of openings and natural lighting in order to produce a variety of experiences for visitors to the memorial spaces.

For example, in the Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Liebskind, visitors move between the exhibition spaces on a broken line. The feeling created by walking in the zigzag route is of disorientation or lack of order. The feeling of absence is reinforced by the changing angles that make up the space and the use of exposed concrete. In fact, the only element that allows little orientation in the museum space are the openings that bring natural lighting into the space. At the end of the visit to the museum, an opening to the sky opens between the ruins; the opening in the museum's ceiling lets in a strong daylight that illuminates the statue of the artist Menashe Kadishman, which consists of hundreds of sad faces made of steel. In order to enjoy the sky, visitors to the space must step on the statue as each step produces a jarring sound of friction on the faces of each other.

Jewish Museum in Berlin, designed by Daniel Liebskind

Even at the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem, designed by Moshe Safdi, there is a lot of use of various elements of natural lighting in order to convey an emotional process to the visitors. The museum is designed in the shape of a triangular prism that refracts light at different angles in the museum ceiling. While wandering through the display spaces the linear trajectory produced by the prism element seems to dictate the way. The linear space begins almost completely dark and is slowly exposed to more sunlight until it is completely breached to an observation point over the city of Jerusalem. The architecture at Yad Vashem seems to tell us through sunlight the transition from beacon to resurrection, from darkness to light.