National Holocaust Memorial

With Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects


London, United Kingdom | 2016- | Shortlisted competition entry

In September 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched an international two-stage design competition for a National Memorial to honour the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution.

Working In collaboration with Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, our proposal focuses on establishing a nationally significant landmark for current and future generations to reflect, mourn and learn. The proposal integrates Learning Centre, Memorial and landscape into a synergistic “total work” that resists traditional notions of dictation, and instead encourages users to engage holistically with subject and space.

The design includes a gently meandering path which leads across a gradually rising hill, inviting ascending visitors for views out to the River Thames and Westminster. This is then revealed as a cliff edge over a fractured landscape, held up by tall patinated bronze walls which inscribe 22 paths - one for each country in which Jewish communities were decimated during the Holocaust. Both cohesive and fragmented, the paths are a shared experience only from afar; the journey through them is experienced individually, as visitors are led down into the threshold below - a space for contemplation and transition.

The proposal includes a new landscape intervention: a subtle but distinct slope of the ground plane just below the existing tree canopies. This offers visitors a new vantage point and a distinctive experience within the park. This bold gesture will create a new sense of place within the gardens and become a new landmark within its immediate context. It will create a new viewing relationship with the overall memorial grounds whilst announcing the entry for the new Learning Centre at ground level. The newly transformed landscape will also allow for the existing memorials within the park to remain visible without disrupting key metropolitan views into London.

This visceral, non-verbal experience, in close proximity to the bastion of democracy, may inspire future generations to connect the events of the Holocaust to other human tragedies of other times and places, and take a stance on wider issues of human rights and freedoms.

Text extracted from competition material, prepared by Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, January 2017.

The movement to the Memorial, engaging with its form and learning from the interaction, will provide visitors with a poignant and memorable experience.
— Neil Porter, Founding Partner
The idea of ‘peeling’ the grassy land, and the tender, minimal intervention prior to the discovery of a dramatic cliff edge, forms the visceral experience of the Memorial. It’s not only a monument that one perceives from the outside, but also one that is ventured into.
— Ron Arad, Ron Arad Architects
Courtesy of Land Securities