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Kéré Architecture

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum

The new permanent exhibition space at the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum has been designed by three internationally renowned designers with different cultural backgrounds. Each architect has worked on a theme; Gringo Cardia (from Brazil) has worked on the theme of “defending human dignity”, Shigeru Ban (from Japan) on “refusing fatality” and Francis Kéré on “reconstructing the family link”.

The dark entrance passage, bounded by hemp concrete walls, encourages the visitor to consider the frightened and suffocating emotions of family tragedy during conflict. Central to this part of the exhibition is a tower, also with hemp concrete walls, which is an architectural reference to a traditional hut for a nuclear family. It lets in very little light and has a Corten steel floor with a rusty appearance. This space is a memorial to tragedies such as the Srebrenica genocide.

The “Tree of Messages”, with its metal branches, is a reminder of the cold contrast between nature and war. The connection between nature and the family is an important sub-theme in Kéré’s part of the exhibition.

The “Room of Witnesses” is a direct contrast to the tower as here the focus is on transparency and hope rather than darkness and despair. This space emphasizes the important role eyewitness testimony plays in humanitarian action.

The use of simple materials here is to emphasise the fundamental connection between the family, roots and nature, and thus the great importance of the difficult search for the missing.