Sir David Adjaye and Ron Arad Architects Selected to Design U.K.’s New Holocaust Memorial in London
n February, a short list for the U.K. National Holocaust Memorial was revealed. Among others, the group of ten finalists included: British firms Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad Architects, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman; Zaha Hadid Architects with British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor; Foster + Partners with Israeli artist Michal Rovner. It was just announced that from that pool of architectural juggernauts, the design by Sir David Adjaye, Ron Arad Architects, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman has been selected for the U.K.’s new National Holocaust Memorial.
Located in central London, the structure will be placed on the banks of the Thames, adjacent to the Palace of Westminster. Ultimately, the design is meant to honor the six million Jewish men, women, and children who were murdered in the Holocaust in the early 20th century. But the landmark will also shine a light on the anti-Semitism, extremism, Islamophobia, racism, and homophobia still prevalent in many ways today. The design will be incorporated with the preexisting green public space by the river. That means the structure will mostly be underground, as a visitors will only see the tips of the memorial’s fins on the southern end of the strip. While this maintains the existing public space, it will likely encourage visitors to find out more about what the building is, as the entrance will be like no other in the world.
“The complexity of the Holocaust story, including the British context, is a series of layers that have become hidden by time,” said Sir David Adjaye in a statement. “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.”
When visitors are outside of the structure, they will see 23 tall bronze fins. The 22 dark spaces in between are meant to represent the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were destroyed during the Holocaust. This means that each visitor will be required to enter in a different, and isolated way, which will be a different experience to the friend, family member, or stranger that is also entering through a different space. Each path eventually leads down into the Threshold—a hall which acts as a place of contemplation and transition into the memorial below ground.