Architecture

Top firms shortlisted for new British Holocaust memorial

Top firms shortlisted for new ...
"Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition," say Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
"Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition," say Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
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"Our proposal for the memorial is not an object, but the creation of a sacred space to serve the voices of survivors," says Allied Works. "It rises from the grounds of Victoria Tower Gardens, woven into the daily life of London. Folding back like a prayer shawl, it holds visitors in an embrace with the spoken word while framing a view to Parliament, underlining our shared accountability."
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"Our proposal for the memorial is not an object, but the creation of a sacred space to serve the voices of survivors," says Allied Works. "It rises from the grounds of Victoria Tower Gardens, woven into the daily life of London. Folding back like a prayer shawl, it holds visitors in an embrace with the spoken word while framing a view to Parliament, underlining our shared accountability."
The outside of the Allied Works proposal
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The outside of the Allied Works proposal
"The catastrophic events of the Holocaust took place outside the UK and the mass graves, remnants of atrocity and concentration camps that are found in mainland Europe do not exist on British soil," say Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread. "A memorial in London will not, therefore, commemorate a particular place, but instead it can embrace a universal theme and foreground the first-hand testimony of survivors."
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"The catastrophic events of the Holocaust took place outside the UK and the mass graves, remnants of atrocity and concentration camps that are found in mainland Europe do not exist on British soil," say Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread. "A memorial in London will not, therefore, commemorate a particular place, but instead it can embrace a universal theme and foreground the first-hand testimony of survivors."
Another view of the proposal by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread
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Another view of the proposal by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread
"We have approached the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre as an opportunity to unearth the complexity of the Holocaust story, which we see as a series of layers that have become hidden by time," says Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects. "Our proposal aims to reveal these layers not through a static symbol commemorating the past, but through an organic living monument that evolves over time, capable of both affecting and being affected by its users."
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"We have approached the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre as an opportunity to unearth the complexity of the Holocaust story, which we see as a series of layers that have become hidden by time," says Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects. "Our proposal aims to reveal these layers not through a static symbol commemorating the past, but through an organic living monument that evolves over time, capable of both affecting and being affected by its users."
An inside view of the proposal by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects
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An inside view of the proposal by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects
"The subtlety of the design of the UKHM gradually reveals the power of the opposing forces that created the descent into a horror of hitherto unimaginable scale, and a humanity of unlimited compassion and selfless commitment," say Diamond Schmitt Architects. "To create a memorial that is commensurate with its prominent site, and appropriate to content of such gravity, the architecture most suitable to serve the purposes of remembrance and caution against the repeat of intolerance, is one of restraint, yet notable form."
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"The subtlety of the design of the UKHM gradually reveals the power of the opposing forces that created the descent into a horror of hitherto unimaginable scale, and a humanity of unlimited compassion and selfless commitment," say Diamond Schmitt Architects. "To create a memorial that is commensurate with its prominent site, and appropriate to content of such gravity, the architecture most suitable to serve the purposes of remembrance and caution against the repeat of intolerance, is one of restraint, yet notable form."
"The subtlety of the design of the UKHM gradually reveals the power of the opposing forces that created the descent into a horror of hitherto unimaginable scale, and a humanity of unlimited compassion and selfless commitment," say Diamond Schmitt Architects. "To create a memorial that is commensurate with its prominent site, and appropriate to the content of such gravity, the architecture most suitable to serve the purposes of remembrance and caution against the repeat of intolerance, is one of restraint, yet notable form."
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"The subtlety of the design of the UKHM gradually reveals the power of the opposing forces that created the descent into a horror of hitherto unimaginable scale, and a humanity of unlimited compassion and selfless commitment," say Diamond Schmitt Architects. "To create a memorial that is commensurate with its prominent site, and appropriate to the content of such gravity, the architecture most suitable to serve the purposes of remembrance and caution against the repeat of intolerance, is one of restraint, yet notable form."
"With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth," say Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner. "Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers, this is the way to the Time Left Memorial. Projected images of an endless procession of human figures resonate with exodus or a human text that seems to go on forever like the unspoken testimonies."
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"With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth," say Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner. "Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers, this is the way to the Time Left Memorial. Projected images of an endless procession of human figures resonate with exodus or a human text that seems to go on forever like the unspoken testimonies."
Inside the Time Left Memorial
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Inside the Time Left Memorial
"We are designing the Memorial/Learning Centre so that we never forget the Holocaust," says heneghan peng architects. "The Memorial is an ear, that connects visitors with the voices and testimonies of those who experienced the Holocaust. Set within the individual voids that occupy the walls of the Memorial, their sonic aggregate becomes the primary material of its sensory construction."
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"We are designing the Memorial/Learning Centre so that we never forget the Holocaust," says heneghan peng architects. "The Memorial is an ear, that connects visitors with the voices and testimonies of those who experienced the Holocaust. Set within the individual voids that occupy the walls of the Memorial, their sonic aggregate becomes the primary material of its sensory construction."
Inside the proposal by heneghan peng architects
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Inside the proposal by heneghan peng architects
"In Jewish tradition, the laying of a stone at a grave marks a visit by relatives, remembering the deceased," say John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group. "This simple act binds generations together. The word for ‘stone’ in Hebrew - ןבא or eben – is a construct of  א or Aleph, (Heavenly Father) and  ב  or Bet, (son) and so the word for stone symbolises this continuity between generations."
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"In Jewish tradition, the laying of a stone at a grave marks a visit by relatives, remembering the deceased," say John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group. "This simple act binds generations together. The word for ‘stone’ in Hebrew - ןבא or eben – is a construct of  א or Aleph, (Heavenly Father) and  ב  or Bet, (son) and so the word for stone symbolises this continuity between generations."
Another view of the proposal from John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group
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Another view of the proposal from John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group
"The UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre summarises the Holocaust, the persecution and systematic mass murder against not only the Jews, but also against other minorities, that took place during the Second World War," say Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and David Morley Architects. "The Learning Centre provides information and evidence as well as an emotional and narrative experience about the era of the Holocaust."
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"The UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre summarises the Holocaust, the persecution and systematic mass murder against not only the Jews, but also against other minorities, that took place during the Second World War," say Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and David Morley Architects. "The Learning Centre provides information and evidence as well as an emotional and narrative experience about the era of the Holocaust."
Another view of the proposal from Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and David Morley Architects
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Another view of the proposal from Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and David Morley Architects
"The Memorial communicates a shadow that has been cast forever on the history of civilization," say Studio Libeskind and Haptic Architects. "Since there is no redemptive meaning in the Holocaust, visitors carry this shadow with them as they journey underground. A dark, reflective metal plane cuts into the sky. The visitor walks down a wide timber ramp, passing through this plane into the underground."
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"The Memorial communicates a shadow that has been cast forever on the history of civilization," say Studio Libeskind and Haptic Architects. "Since there is no redemptive meaning in the Holocaust, visitors carry this shadow with them as they journey underground. A dark, reflective metal plane cuts into the sky. The visitor walks down a wide timber ramp, passing through this plane into the underground."
An inside view of the proposal from Studio Libeskind and Haptic Architects
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An inside view of the proposal from Studio Libeskind and Haptic Architects
"Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition," say Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
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"Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition," say Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
A different perspective on the proposal from Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
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A different perspective on the proposal from Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
View gallery - 20 images

Ten firms, including Zaha Hadid Architects, Foster + Partners and Caruso St John Architects, have been shortlisted to design a new Holocaust memorial on a prominent site in London's Victoria Gardens, adjacent to the Palace of Westminster. The National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre aims to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution.

The international design competition is led by the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation and the British Government, and managed by Malcolm Reading Consultants. Each of the proposals will be displayed publicly at multiple venues in the UK, in addition to online.

Judging from the renders and information available, there isn't really a bad project among them, each managing to be both engaging and sensitive while bringing architectural expression to that most terrible of events. As per the competition brief, each one is at least partly underground. We've highlighted a few outstanding designs below, but head to the gallery to see the rest.

Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects

A different perspective on the proposal from Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects
A different perspective on the proposal from Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects

This concept, by Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects, along with Arup Lighting, Sophie Walker Studio and others is perhaps most striking of the shortlist. It includes a grove of cypress trees and a long ramp that takes visitors underground a large rock sculpture made from rough-cast bronze. Above-ground, the rock monument would have an entrance, revealing a circular contemplative space.

"Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition," says the team. "They call on the vastness of nature to be a witness to our humanity. A memorial to the Holocaust must be contemplative and silent, such that it evokes our empathy. It must be a promise to future generations that this terrible chapter in human history can never occur again."

Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner

"With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth," say Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner. "Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers, this is the way to the Time Left Memorial. Projected images of an endless procession of human figures resonate with exodus or a human text that seems to go on forever like the unspoken testimonies."
"With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth," say Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner. "Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers, this is the way to the Time Left Memorial. Projected images of an endless procession of human figures resonate with exodus or a human text that seems to go on forever like the unspoken testimonies."

This design, by Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner, along with Simon Schama, Avner Shalev and others, would again see visitors descend beneath the ground via a ramp.

The ramp's entrance holds a sculpture evoking the burning of millions of books by the Nazis, and includes the words "wherever they burn books they will in the end burn human beings," by Heinrich Heine. The passage enters an underground memorial which features a procession of human figures projected on the walls, before it moves upwards again.

"With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth," says the team. "Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers, this is the way to the Time Left Memorial."

Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread

Another view of the proposal by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread
Another view of the proposal by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread

This haunting proposal, by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread, plus others, features a translucent sculpture above ground and large chambers beneath.

The underground section is reached by staircase (and, presumably, a ramp for disabled visitors). Natural light permeates in the underground hall and visitors will hear moving accounts of actual Holocaust survivors.

"The catastrophic events of the Holocaust took place outside the UK and the mass graves, remnants of atrocity and concentration camps that are found in mainland Europe do not exist on British soil," says the team. "A memorial in London will not, therefore, commemorate a particular place, but instead it can embrace a universal theme and foreground the first-hand testimony of survivors."

The winning project will be announced in Summer (northern hemisphere), 2017. The estimated budget is a maximum of £40 million (roughly US$50 million).

Source: UK Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition

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