UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

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London, United Kingdom | 2016 - 

In September 2016, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) launched an international two-stage design competition for a National Memorial to honour the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution. Envisaged as a place for everyone to come to remember the Holocaust, as well as a focal point for annual national commemorations, the Memorial will affirm the United Kingdom’s commitment to stand up against prejudice and hatred.

In collaboration with Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, our design for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre focuses on establishing a nationally significant landmark for current and future generations to reflect, mourn and learn, and is drawn from extensive research into the site, its constraints and subject matter. It seeks to respect its context, honour the weight of its responsibility and inspire visitors to strive to draw meaning and purpose out of tragedy. It is an integrated approach, in which the Memorial is embedded within the landscape, and the Learning Centre is embedded within the Memorial.

Through understanding and researching the diverse uses of Victoria Tower Gardens, it was essential that the proposal not only allowed its current activities to remain, but rather enhance the user experience. The creation of a softly sloping landscape provides visitors with a new vantage point to the River Thames, a renewed perspective and relationship to the memorial and a distinctive entry point for the underground Learning Centre. The subtle shift in the landscape allows for all existing memorials within the gardens to remain visible to visitors.

The Memorial Courtyard is designed as a unique, contemplative space that defines the relationship between the Entrance Pavilion, the Memorial and Learning Centre - a garden within Victoria Tower Gardens. Its positioning and design create an environment where visitors can linger, with a landscape that offers a place of calm reflection and a highly flexible environment for formal and informal ceremonies, services and other reverent gatherings. The Memorial Courtyard is defined as a series of gently sloping terraces, framed on either side by the perimeter walls, planting and railings. As the visitor descends their focus moves away from the surrounding park, and towards the Memorial.

Our design uses a palette of natural materials – grey stone, concrete, natural stone and bronze in their unpolished, raw forms – to reflect the honesty and intensity with which our design has sought to approach this traumatic subject. To give an organic quality to the design, we have selected surfaces that are informed by, but do not replicate or mimic, historical references and precedents. These natural materials are robust yet dynamic and assume different qualities over time as they age. This reflects of our design vision, which rejects the notion of a memorial as static and perfected in favour of the idea of the memorial as a living organism.

The project will be submitted for planning approval in early 2019. It is scheduled to start on site in 2020 and is due to open in 2022.

 
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The landscape design embeds the Memorial within the existing landscape and allows the park’s current activities to remain. A subtle grass slope above the memorial entrance creates a distinctive experience within the park that will provide visitors with a new vantage point from which to view the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament.
— Neil Porter, Founding Partner
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The bold and sensitive collaboration between architecture, landscape architecture, art and design from such a multi-faceted and award winning team truly captured our attention...also the seriousness with which the team approached the brief and the responsibility they saw they had: to carry the messages from this terrible history on to the generations to come.
— Sarah Weir, Chief Executive of the Design Council
This unique and immersive memorial is not just for Londoners, but for the whole UK. It will ensure the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten and will stand as a powerful reminder to future generations about the fragility of peace.
— Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
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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
The jury was unanimous...the team’s 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.
— Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation and the competition jury
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A stunning, inspiring, sobering concept for the UK’s new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. Constructed right in the heart of our democracy, it will be a lasting tribute both to those who died and to those who survived.
— Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
The outstanding winning concept will provide an entry point for a greater national understanding of the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. This timely memorial will encourage and inspire peaceful coexistence and tolerance and will lead to a better appreciation of what can happen when hatred is allowed to develop unchecked.
— Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis