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
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
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
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).