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Shortlisted Designs for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre

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Designs by shortlisted teams in a competition to design a £40 million national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in the UK have gone on public display. The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation launched the memorial international design competition in September last year to design a national memorial commemorating the Holocaust next to Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens, London. After receiving 92 entries, 10 shortlisted teams, including Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad Associates, Zaha Hadid Architects and Anish Kapoor, were revealed in November, but now, those shortlisted designs are being publicly displayed at various venues across the UK and online.

Designs on display include Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread’s translucent sculpture and series of large chambers for an accompanying learning centre below ground. Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner have designed an underground ramp structure, which is marked at its entrance with a sculpture of Broken Books to represent the burning of millions of books by the Nazis in 1933.

The competition launched by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, requested that teams deliver an “emotionally powerful and sensitively designed memorial.” Each team has drawn up proposals for a modest memorial above ground and a subterranean learning centre. Competition organiser Malcolm Reading, said in a statement: “This striking new structure will honour victims and survivors of Nazi persecution, educate future generations about the dangers of where prejudice and hatred can lead and serve as a powerful statement of our values as a nation.”

Members of the public can view all of the 10 shortlisted designs below (with annotations from the designers themselves), and submit their feedback by email to Any feedback will be passed onto the jury, which includes jury chair Sir Peter Bazalgette, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and former director of Serpentine Galleries Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, with the overall winner to be announced in summer 2017.

Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects

With Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Plan A and DHA Designs


“We have approached the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre as an opportunity to unearth the complexity of the Holocaust story, which we see as a series of layers that have become hidden by time. Our proposal aims to reveal these layers not through a static symbol commemorating the past, but through an organic living monument that evolves over time, capable of both affecting and being affected by its users.”

Allied Works

With Robert Montgomery, The Olin Studio, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Allied Info Works, Arup, Curl la Tourelle Head Architecture, PFB Construction Management Services, BuroHappold and Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners


“We stand at a moment of transition – a time when those who lived through the Holocaust and witnessed the atrocities first-hand will no longer be present to provide testimony. Our proposal for the memorial is not an object, but the creation of a sacred space to serve the voices of survivors. Folding back like a prayer shawl, it holds visitors in an embrace with the spoken word while framing a view to Parliament, underlining our shared accountability.”

Anish Kapoor and Zaha Hadid Architects

With Sophie Walker Studio, Arup Lighting, Event London, Lord Cultural Resources, Max Fordham, Michael Hadi Associates, Gardiner & Theobald, Whybrow, Access=Design and Goddard Consulting


“Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition. They call on the vastness of nature to be a witness to our humanity. A memorial to the Holocaust must be contemplative and silent, such that it evokes our empathy. It must be a promise to future generations that this terrible chapter in human history can never occur again.”

Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread

With Vogt Landscape Architects, Arup Lighting and David Bonnett Associates


“The catastrophic events of the Holocaust took place outside the UK and the mass graves, remnants of atrocity and concentration camps that are found in mainland Europe do not exist on British soil. A memorial in London will not, therefore, commemorate a particular place, but instead it can embrace a universal theme and foreground the first-hand testimony of survivors.”

Diamond Schmitt Architects

With Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Martha Schwartz Partners and Arup


“The subtlety of the design of the UKHM gradually reveals the power of the opposing forces that created the descent into a horror of hitherto unimaginable scale, and a humanity of unlimited compassion and selfless commitment. To create a memorial that is commensurate with its prominent site, and appropriate to content of such gravity, the architecture most suitable to serve the purposes of remembrance and caution against the repeat of intolerance, is one of restraint, yet notable form.”

Foster + Partners and Michal Rovner

With Simon Schama, Avner Shalev, Local Projects, Samantha Heywood, David Bonnett Associates, Tillotson Design Associates and Whybrow


“With minimum disturbance to the park, a ramp descends into the earth. Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers. This is the way to the Time Left Memorial. Projected images of an endless procession of human figures resonate with exodus or a human text that seems to go on forever like the unspoken testimonies.”

Heneghan Peng

With Gustafson Porter + Bowman, Event, Sven Anderson, Bartenbach, Arup, Bruce Mau Design, BuroHappold, Mamou-Mani, Turner & Townsend, PFB, Andrew Ingham & Associates and LMNB


“The Memorial is an ear, that connects visitors with the voices and testimonies of those who experienced the Holocaust. Set within the individual voids that occupy the walls of the Memorial, their sonic aggregate becomes the primary material of its sensory construction. Visitors descend from the Gardens through a series of thresholds and passages, encountering individual voices as they form a collective, of those who speak of past horrors and the grave risk of authoritarianism and barbarism returning today.”

John McAslan + Partners and MASS Design Group

With Lily Jencks Studio, Local Projects and Arup


“In Jewish tradition, the laying of a stone at a grave marks a visit by relatives, remembering the deceased. This simple act binds generations together. The legacy of the Holocaust – or Shoah – is not just the elimination of nearly six million Jews; but the grievous loss of generations that never came to be – millions of stones yet to be placed.”

Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects and David Morley Architects

With Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Hemgård Landscape Design, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Dani Karavan and Arup


“The Memorial is a composition of two arcs facing each other and a water pool. The first arc describes the Holocaust, the other describes how it was experienced in the UK. The visitor walks through the arcs – rust spaces – symbolically along the iron rail tracks. The destination is either a death camp or a train journey across the channel into the UK. The area between the arcs and the steel surface of the Memorial creates a bare space of tranquillity.”

Studio Libeskind and Haptic

With Martha Schwartz Partners, BuroHappold, Lord Cultural Resources, Alan Baxter, Garbers & James and James E Young


“The Memorial communicates a shadow that has been cast forever on the history of civilisation. Since there is no redemptive meaning in the Holocaust, visitors carry this shadow with them as they journey underground. A dark, reflective metal plane cuts into the sky. The visitor walks down a wide timber ramp, passing through this plane into the underground.”


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