UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

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London, United Kingdom | 2016 - 

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 winning 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.

Our proposal includes a new landscape intervention - a subtle but distinct slope of the landscape just below the existing tree canopies– to offer users 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 offer visitors a new vantage point to the River Thames and a new perspectival relationship to the overall memorial grounds. This slope will also allow for the existing memorials within the park to remain visible with no interruption from the newly transformed landscape. Key metropolitan views into London are also undisturbed.

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.

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
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
We were very interested in integrating all parts of this project – landscape, memorial and learning space, because we felt this was something that was not just about an object, it was one single work.
— Sir David Adjaye OBE
 Courtesy of Land Securities
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
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
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