Daniel Libeskind shares thoughts on the emotion of building design as CNN guest editor

Architect Daniel Libeskind is CNN Style’s first guest editor. He’s commissioning a series of features that explore the theme of “Architecture and Emotion,” to be published throughout the month of July. 


From the architect: 

Architecture defines where we are, what we are looking at, what is above us, what it below us, what is behind us, it orients us. It’s being alive.

My name is Daniel Libeskind. Architect.

Architecture often reduced to something very abstract. Something that has to do with square metres, height of buildings, materials of buildings. But seldom is it really addressed to the heart or to the soul… and that’s emotion. So the challenge is how to bring a poetic dimension of true human life through inert materials like steel and concrete and how to create a place that isn’t just a repetition or nostalgia for the past but also opens completely new perspectives, inspires us with new thoughts.

Architecture has such an ambiguous status. On one hand it’s art, on one hand it’s seen as something very pedestrian and very banal and many people don’t even notice it. They will go by a large building as if it doesn’t exist next to them.

Part of what I’m trying to say is that the things that are built are built by human beings. Decisions have been made about that. Buildings belong to everyone, so, we should have a great stake and claim for what we want them to be, what we want them to do and how we want them to relate to us because architecture is much more than what we see. It’s what we hear, it’s what we touch, it’s what we smell. It’s part of our deepest, deepest dreams.

Working at ground zero is the next task, it’s a very objective task to redesign part of the city that has been destroyed. I always believe that you have to have something revealed to you that you did not expect and that really happened to me as I was designing the project. I realised that this was not just a site that I had understood and known, that there was something spiritual about the space. To conceive of it as a harmonious hole that holds the memory of that day but also moves New York to its incredible future with its diversity, beauty, openness. That was really what was revealed to me.

Architecture that is made with true love brings an understanding. And when we understand something we find out something about ourselves we know something more that gives us a joy in living and a pleasure. That’s what architecture can do. To some extent everything that you do in architecture has to have some experience. Not everything is as touching, as emotionally loaded and as profound as ground zero. But every building has its own story to tell and I try to tell that story.