A proposal by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, with Gustafson Porter + Bowman, has been announced as the successful design for the UK’s new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center. The landmark will be located on the banks of the River Thames and adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, and will honor the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered in the Holocaust, and all other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, gay, and disabled people.
Two honorable mentions were awarded to heneghan peng architects with Sven Anderson, and Diamond Schmitt Architects.
The announcement comes after competition organizers Malcolm Reading Consultants revealed 10 shortlisted design proposals, which included teams comprising Caruso St. John, Allied Works, Foster + Partners, Studio Libeskind, and Zaha Hadid Architects. Adjaye and Arad were selected “unanimously” as the winning team by a jury including the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Mayor of London, the UK’s Chief Rabbi, experts from architecture, art and design, and both first and second generation Holocaust survivors.
A co-located Learning Centre will “contextualize the Memorial above and use the stories and facts of the Holocaust to explore anti-Semitism, extremism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and other forms of hatred and prejudice in society today.” According to the competition organizers it will, from its location next to Parliament, “ask questions about the role of society and its institutions in encouraging respect for others and preventing hatred.”
Sir David Adjaye, speaking on behalf of Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad and Gustafson Porter + Bowman, acknowledges that “the complexity of the Holocaust story, including the British context, is a series of layers that have become hidden by time.” He continues:
Our approach to the project has been to reveal these layers and not let them remain buried under history. To do so, we wanted to create a living place, not just a monument to something of the past. We wanted to orchestrate an experience that reminds us of the fragility and constant strive for a more equitable world.
Description of the Chosen Concept
“The winning design concept was inspired by research into the site, Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament, with Sir David Adjaye describing the location as a “park of Britain’s conscience”. The Memorial links with the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst, the Burghers of Calais and the Buxton Memorial: all four recognising injustice and the need to oppose it.”
“In order to keep the park as a park and to maintain the green space, the team placed its Holocaust Memorial at the far southern end of the Gardens, embedded in the land. Accordingly, a visitor approaching the Memorial would see a subtle grass landform with only the tips of the Memorial’s fins “bristling in the distance”, its intriguing design giving a sense that something is happening underground and encouraging people to find out more.”
“The design concept takes visitors on a journey that culminates in confronting the 23 tall bronze fins of the Memorial, the spaces in between representing the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were destroyed during the Holocaust. Entering the Memorial would be a sensory experience. While the outside and inside space emphasises collective gathering, the 23 bronze fins require the visitor to enter in an isolated, solitary way, each pathway planned as a different experience. Each path eventually leads down into the Threshold – a generous hall which acts as a place of contemplation and transition into the Learning Centre below ground. The Learning Centre includes a “hall of testimonies” and a “Contemplation Court”: a silent, reflective space with eight bronze panels. On leaving the Memorial, the circulation route ensures visitors will emerge to see the classic uninterrupted view of Parliament – and the reality of democracy.”
The jury comprised of:
- Sir Peter Bazalgette (Chair)
- Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary
- Rt Hon Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
- Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
- Samantha Cohen, Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen
- Charlotte Cohen, Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission Youth Commissioner
- Alice Greenwald, President and CEO National September 11 Memorial and Museum
- Ben Helfgott MBE, President 45 Aid Society, Holocaust Survivors and President HMDT, British Olympic Weightlifter
- Natasha Kaplinsky OBE, Broadcaster
- The Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE, Journalist
- Dame Julia Peyton-Jones DBE, Former Director of Serpentine Gallery
- Sarah Weir OBE, CEO of Design Council
- Paul Williams OBE, Stanton Williams Architects.
The winning concept will now undergo further development through discussion with Holocaust experts, survivors and other victim groups, and local residents, Westminster City Council, Historic England, Royal Parks and other statutory consultees. The British Government has committed £50 million for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation to take forward the recommendations of the Commission. Completion is slated for 2021.
The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Malcolm Reading Consultants have revealed the designs of 10 teams shortlisted to design a new Holocaust Memorial, to be located in London’s Victoria Tower Gardens next to the Houses of Parliament.