Architecture: And here's one he's making just outside Manchester

The next Libeskind building will be his controversial new pounds 28.5m Imperial War Museum.
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The Independent Culture
THE NEWS that two major projects in Britain have received funding and planning permission has prompted Daniel Libeskind and his wife Nina to consider packing up their partnership in Berlin and moving back to London.

The next Libeskind to be raised from the ground in 2001 will be the Imperial War Museum of the North at Trafford outside Manchester. Here Libeskind will make the ground move beneath our feet on a reconstructed globe. The flat and desolate car park on the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal will be given a double curvature.

"It'll be ground breaking," Libeskind promises.

It will certainly be the first time a building has had a floor in a double curvature oriented kinetically to the horizon so the edges of the building drop two metres below the real horizon. Flat earthers who thought it could never happen will find the new museum raised upon a gigantic curvature. The three halls, segments of another globe, look as though the planet had been dropped from an awesome height and fragmented into three shards.

At 53 metres, these deconstructed skyscrapers are separate, yet designed to be viewed together seamlessly from the curvature of the floor, as if you were seeing the world and its oceans from Hubble. Daniel Libeskind describes it as "a true microcosm of the globe, not a flat plane in sight."

Professor Robert O'Neill, chairman of the trustees of the Imperial War Museum, plans to fill the museum with archival material from the London war museum which explores the story of 20th century conflict. Live news playing upon its metallic walls will be updated as it happens.

Trafford won the battle for their pounds 28.5 million museum by brokering a deal between the public and the private sectors, a partnership that Daniel Libeskind applauds. "That funding shows the way forward for museums in the next century. It's important to invest in institutions. That is the future," he believes. So he is prepared to overlook the monstrosity of a 1980s office block that his benefactor Peel Holdings inhabits next door. Its bulk hidden behind smoked bronze reflective glass, it seems completely out of place in this industrial waterfront setting.

Reminded that Peel Holdings built the gigantic out-of-town shopping centre at Trafford on the scale, and silhouette, of Versailles, Daniel Libeskind shrugs it off. What he wants is for people to put their money into new public spaces like the 20th- century patrons of the arts. The new breed of benefactor may have very different ideas on architecture but he sees the partnership as a healthy one. "It's important for urban regeneration," he says.

The new museum will also be important to pull punters into the enormous hull of the Lowry Centre by Michael Wilford that rears up on the other side of the canal. A footbridge will link the two. That pounds 134m project received lottery funding as a landmark project from the Millennium Commission, even though it is too close to Manchester to support an arts programme without another major crowd puller on its doorstep.

Chris Smith, the Secretary of State, expresses the hope that "the Imperial War Museum North will help meet the demand for a fairer distribution of the nation's cultural and educational resources." It would have been better, perhaps, if, as Chairman of the Millennium Commission, he had thought of that before and divided the spoils of lottery money more evenly between the two schemes.

Libeskind has been working on the Spiral at the V&A for two years and believes it is "absolutely critical to the future of the V&A in the 21st century".

As a crucible for the fusion of arts, science and technology to push Britain's design and manufacturing capability into the next century, the Spiral will showcase new artists, designers and crafts people. The walls of the Spiral rise in a series of inclined planes that overlap and interlock to form a self-supporting spiral that will be clad in handcrafted ivory tiles.

Tile shapes are based on fractal geometry to form a non-repeating pattern. After two refusals for lottery funding, pounds 30m in private donations have been made towards the total cost of the Spiral, which is estimated to be pounds 80m.