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An icon reflecting the effects of war

Bringing Daniel Libeskind’s powerful vision to life required precision construction and painstaking attention to detail.

Visionary architect Libeskind’s first major British project, Manchester’s Imperial War Museum is a fitting home for the exhibits on show.

Symbolising a world torn apart by conflict, the museum consists of three giant shards of a shattered globe, representing the three theatres of war, earth, water and air.

Tackling the complex geometry was a challenge and required close cooperation, meticulous planning and precision construction. The team worked to define the detail where the planes, spheres and cylinders meet, developing solutions to deliver a flawless experience for visitors.

Clad in shimmering aluminium and rising to 55m above ground, the museum has become a striking landmark on the city skyline.

Summary

    • Client: Imperial War Museum
    • Sector: Leisure
    • Value: £18m
    • Location: North West
    • Theme: Sustainability
    • Services: Construction Support, Pre-Construction
    • Completion date: 2002
  • Precision construction

    The technically challenging design demanded precision construction with minimal tolerances.

    We made sure all the elements would fit perfectly, providing detail for pre-fabrication and pre-drilling of the cladding. Our meticulous approach meant the programme ran like clockwork.

  • Sustainable cooling solutions

    The nearby Manchester Ship Canal provides “free cooling” for the building. Drawn from the canal’s depths, cold water is fed through a series of plate exchangers, keeping the building cool in summer.

  • Hand-finished floors

    The main exhibition room’s striking floor required lateral thinking. Curved in all directions, it is designed to mimic the curvature of the Earth and to give the impression of people in the distance disappearing over the horizon.

    To achieve the effect, the concrete, which falls by 2m across the room, was levelled by hand.

A stupendous anti-war museum demonstrating the social history of war and conflict since 1917 delivered to a very limited budget.

BCIA judges

Awards

  1. awards

    Civic Trust Award (2004)

  2. awards icon - light green

    Building Award – BCIA (2003)