Holocaust memorial design winners announced

The winning entry was the unanimous choice of a judging panel which included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott.


British architecture team Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects have been selected as designers of the new national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Westminster.

The winning entry - which also includes the landscape architects Gustafson Porter + Bowman - was the unanimous choice of a judging panel which included Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott.

The result of the UK Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition was announced today after the jury picked its favoured design from ten finalists, selected from 92 original entries.

The panel praised the winning team’s proposal to create “a living place, not just a monument to something of the past” and the desire to create an immersive journey for the visitor who would enter a memorial embedded in the land.

The chosen design concept features 23 tall bronze fins - with the spaces in between representing the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were destroyed during the Shoah.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said of the winning design: “The question of how we will memorialise the Holocaust in the years to come, in a society which will no longer be able to rely on first-hand testimony of survivors, is one that should occupy the mind of every one of us.

"Today, the British nation has taken an important and historic step in offering our answer to that question.

"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.”

Located next to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the new memorial will honour the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust along with the other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, homosexual and disabled people.

An underground learning centre below will contextualise the memorial above and use the stories and facts of the Shoah.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation chair and the competition jury, said: "The jury was unanimous in awarding this competition to Sir David Adjaye and his highly skilled and passionate team.

“Their 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.

“We look forward to working with them on this nationally significant project: a statement by the British people that our nation will remember those who suffered, and that we will always strive for a better future.”

Sir David Adjaye, who will lead the design team, is known for creating sensitive yet compelling designs.

His recent work includes the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and the Idea Stores in London’s Tower Hamlets.

He said: “The complexity of the Holocaust story, including the British context, is a series of layers that have become hidden by time. 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 strife for a more equitable world."

Polish-born Ben Helfgott, who survived Buchenwald and Theresienstadt, added: "I have spent each and every day since I was liberated in 1945 remembering my family and friends, and all of the victims of the Holocaust who were murdered by the Nazis.

"With fellow survivors in the 45 Aid Society, and with our children and grandchildren, I have sought to tell and retell the painful history accurately and in context, and to make sure we use the tragic experience to fight for justice and the rule of law, and to spread the message of tolerance.

“As we - the youngest survivors – pass on the baton of remembrance, we are delighted to see this wonderful design team deliver a memorial and learning centre which will resonate for generations.”

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “The UK Holocaust Memorial will be a fitting tribute to the six million Jews who were murdered in occupied Europe during the Holocaust, and to the survivors who rebuilt their lives in the UK, contributing so much to British life.

“We look forward to working with the UKHMF, to ensure that the Memorial plays a central role in the national and local commemorations that the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust runs every year, all around the country.”

Karen Pollock, Holocaust Educational Trust chief executive, said: “We are fortunate that ten world leading design teams decided to enter this competition - all with a very impressive vision for this memorial, which will stand for generations to come.

“This memorial will be a tribute to both the victims and the Holocaust survivors who have rebuilt their lives in the UK, but beyond this, it will be a focal point for people from all walks of life to engage and learn about the Holocaust - more important than ever in today’s world.”

Jonathan Arkush, Board of Deputies president, said: “We send our congratulations to Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects on winning the design competition. Our hope is that the finished memorial will provide a fitting monument to the suffering of the victims of the Shoah.”

"A memorial on its own would be devoid of context and would fail to convey meaning. We therefore strongly support combining the memorial with a learning centre so that the true facts of the cruelty and mass murder that characterised the Holocaust, and its lessons about the importance of opposing prejudice, can be effectively brought home to future generations.”

Jonathan Goldstein, Jewish Leadership Council chairman, said: “At a time when hate crime is on the rise, it is more important than ever to educate about the consequences of unchecked and senseless hatred.

"This iconic memorial will not only be a reminder of where hate can lead but also a symbol of where we as a country stand on this issue. Having a memorial in the heart of our democracy, next to the Houses of Parliament - where our laws are made and scrutinised –sends a very clear message that hatred has no place in Britain and will be challenged at every juncture. 

“We want to thank the Prime Minister for seeing through the work of her predecessor and for recognising the importance of educating on the tragedies of the Holocaust.”

Subject to the planning process, the memorial and learning centre are due for completion by 2021.

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