More than 96% of Lithuania’s Jewish population was decimated during the Holocaust – The Lost Shtetl aims to restore the memory of the lost people and their rich culture that was systematically exterminated.
The Lost Shtetl museum is a modern abstraction of the traditional pitched-roof houses that made up the Eastern European local Jewish villages, known as shtetls. Each ‘house’ within The Lost Shtetl will have a distinct function, including exhibitions, galleries, learning and archiving facilities, and administration space. From roof to walls, the entire outside of the buildings will be clad in metal tiles that reference to the wooden shingles of the traditional shtetl houses.
A blend of modest and traditional architecture give place for a seamless, powerful narrative of pre-Holocaust Jewish life in Lithuania
- Location: Šeduva, Lithuania
- Year: Ongoing
- Total area: 3000m2
- Programme: Museum, multi-purpose hall, administration spaces
- The project remembers the lost Jewish villages, 'shtetls', decimated by the holocaust
- The Lost Shtetl plays the role of both memorial and museum
- Both exhibitions and architecture are combined seamlessly, projecting a clear narrative
- Each function has its own 'house' within the 'shtetl'
- The large pitched roofs take their form from vernacular architecture
The Lost Shtetl is at the same time a memorial and a museum. The entity is a remembrance of a lost village, but also a universal interpretation of community living and about the physical environment, where we all have the right to live. No other goals have been set to the symbolism of the building –the village itself will tell the story of life.
The museum and memorial stand to remember the lost Jewish communities (shtetls) of Lithuania, in particular the ones that stood on the same very site. In style, scale and programme The Lost Shtetl references and remembers the past lives of Lithuanian Jews which were decimated by the Holocaust.
The museum architecture and exhibition are created to be one coherent singularity - both working to tell the story together. The functions are gathered in a modern representation of the ‘shtetl’ where each function is housed in its own “house” - the function and the meaning of each house determines its individual form. Large pitched roofs, reaching upwards, bring a powerful yet solemn atmosphere to the interior spaces. Whilst directly representing the roofs of the past shtetls, the forms also create a sense of importance and distinction within the museum. Light flows softly in from cracks in the top of the roofs, gently illuminating the spaces below.
The sloped building site provides the opportunity to create a museum on two levels. Entrance is granted from the upper level, where administration spaces, reception and the multipurpose hall are. To access the exhibitions, visitors are required to descend into the lower levels of the building.
From the outside, the building masses appear as both a single mass and an entire village. The detailing of all the buildings creates a uniform exterior, over every wall and roof; the cladding wraps all around the building. The design constantly refers back to the vernacular architecture of the surrounding area. In this cladding, the surface resembles a traditional shake, shingle or tile roof that has roots in local building traditions.
The museum is also a celebration of a lost culture; one that was lively, colourful and vibrant. The modest modern architecture functions as a backdrop that enhances smaller hints to the past. Traditional ornamentation and actual historic building components are allowed to stand out; such as doors and stained glass mosaic windows.
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