Exhibition in the Tower of Death

Exhibition in the Tower of Death
Address: Dolní Žďár 103, Vykmanov, Ostrov, Czech Republic
Investor:Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů

Collaboration: Jakub Jareš (historian), Adéla Vorbová (graphic designer)
Award: honorable mention Grand Prix of Architects 2023
Photo: Petr Moschner
In the 1950s, Czech political prisoners were locked up in labor camps in Jáchymov region, where they mined uranium in primitive conditions. They slowly lost their health there due to radioactivity and cruel treatment.
The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, represented by historian Jakub Jareš, approached us with the intention of creating an exhibition in the Tower of Death, which will be the first step towards making this monument accessible in a dignified way. Despite the modest budget, the exhibition uses spatial experience to tell a story across the entire building. The exhibition is an intervention into the distressed state of the monument.
After entering the hall, the perspective is covered by a large cylinder with a half-open entrance. The future is uncertain. You don't see how this story is going to continue. Stepping inside the enclosed space brings feeling of imprisonment while looking into the faces of former political prisoners – represented by their investigative identification photos.
There is only one way out of the prison, into the hall of the Tower of Death. In front of the visitor is a vast space with a regular row of columns, a symbol of endless days of work in confinement. During the passage, the visitor collects information about the reasons and details of the sad history.
A distinctive black tube disrupts the space. The narrow black passage establishes anticipation, tension, anxiety. At the end of the path, a tall space opens up on the ground floor of the Tower of Death. Gazing up, slowing down, remembering. One lonely chair to offer a place to rest. The atmosphere is enhanced by an audio recording of the witness' narration.
The narrated story is watched by witnesses from the last part of the hall. Forest of panels symbolizing the victims.
On some panels, the visitor will discover a personal statement, others are silent and empty. The memory is fading away.
Studio COSMO
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