Museum Judenplatz

Exhibition rooms for archaeological finds
1995–2000
450 sqm
Redevelopment + Extension

Rachel Whiteread’s design for the Holocaust memorial has no obvious points of reference to the remains of a medieval synagogue discovered underneath Judenplatz. It is therefore complemented by two other architectural features – the square itself and the Judenplatz Museum in the Mizrachi House, which hosts an exhibition on the life of Vienna’s Jewish community during the Middle Ages.

The square and the adjoining streets now form a self-contained pedestrian area dominated by the Holocaust memorial and the statue of Lessing. It seemed an obvious choice to use the old granite paving stones typical for the city centre for the paving; stones of different size accentuate the transitions from streets to square and the street gutters. The lighting system installed on the roofs of the surrounding buildings allows an even illumination of the urban space.

Access to the archaeological excavations is via the new exhibition rooms on the ground floor and lower floor in the Mizrachi House. The layout of the archaeological site required an underground passage emerging right in the centre of the excavations, giving visitors an immediate overview of the site. The excavated remains of the outer walls of the synagogue destroyed in 1421 determine the position and size of the display room. Set in front of the walls of the room, galvanized sheet brass cladding precisely marks the outer extent of the excavations. It conceals the utility lines and, since it does not reflect the room’s artificial lighting, provides a discreet background for the material diversity of the archaeological finds.