Presence through Absence
Dresden is made of two cities, one there and the other absent, consisting only of memories. The old city dwells in the new; it is both present and absent within the contemporary fabric. The city which evaporated into flames still exists in the air it once contained.
The building of the synagogue is more than just another trace of what has vanished from the fabric of the city. lt brings back the memory of a double catastrophe – that of the German Jews, whose history divides the city into those who can never forget and those who can never know.
An empty courtyard stands at the core of the new building, derived from the negative image of the original synagogue, describing the exact absence of its form and space. One enters the new synagogue from the space of the old.
The building represents layers of conflicting orders. The order of the old city with that of the new, matter with memory, presence with absence. lt occupies the site simultaneously in both past and present, its shape governed by both.
The building reacts to the contemporary logic and features of the existing city, but holds in its form a part of its past. The old synagogue, now an empty space, remains as a pocket of time and silence, embedded in the present city.
Jewish Community, Dresden