Adjaye associates, ron arad architects and landscape architects gustafson porter + bowman have been selected to design the UK’s new holocaust memorial and learning centre in london. the winning team held off strong competition from nine other shortlisted entries, including daniel libeskind and zaha hadid architects, among others. located next to the houses of parliament in westminster, the new UK holocaust memorial will honor jewish men, women, and children, as well as all other victims of nazi persecution, including roma, gay, and disabled people.
A below grade learning centre seeks to contextualize the memorial. here, a variety of stories and facts from the holocaust are used to explore anti-semitism, extremism, islamophobia, racism, homophobia and other forms of hatred and prejudice in society today. led by david adjaye, the design team — which also includes ron arad architects and gustafson porter + bowman — will now develop the scheme further through discussion with holocaust experts and survivors as well as local residents and authorities.
The design concept takes visitors on a journey that culminates in confronting the 23 tall bronze fins of the memorial, with the spaces in between representing the 22 countries in which jewish communities were destroyed during the holocaust. in order to keep the park and maintain its green space, the team embedded the memorial at the far southern end of the gardens.
Entering the memorial would be a sensory experience,’ explains the design team. ‘while the outside and inside space emphasizes 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 complexity of the holocaust story, including the british context, is a series of layers that have become hidden by time,’ says david adjaye. ‘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 strife for a more equitable world.’
The jury was unanimous in awarding this competition to sir david adjaye and his highly skilled and passionate team,’ states sir peter bazalgette, chair of the UK holocaust memorial foundation and the competition jury. ‘their ability to use architecture to create an emotionally powerful experience, their understanding of the complexity of the holocaust and their desire to create a living place as well as a respectful memorial to the past and its surroundings, will combine to create a new national landmark for generations to come.