The UK government has launched an international design competition for a £50 million national Holocaust memorial next to the Palace of Westminster in London (Deadline: 17 October)
The competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, invites designers, architects and artists to submit proposals for a ‘striking’ memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens (pictured) commemorating the Holocaust.
Schemes should include a below-ground learning centre, contextualising the monument and featuring audio recordings of British Holocaust survivors and camp liberators.
Source: Image by Malcolm Reading Consultants and Emily Whitfield Wicks
The monument and learning centre will together provide a space for quiet reflection and national commemorations while also signposting visitors to other Holocaust educational resources across the UK.
Announcing the contest, prime minister Theresa May said: ‘We need to ensure that we never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons that must be learnt from it.
‘It is right that we have agreed this national memorial, next to Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens. This will ensure that there will be opportunities for young people and others to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and the appalling atrocities that took place.’
The UK’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said: ‘This international design competition is a unique opportunity to enshrine the memory of the Shoah in British history for generations to come.
‘It will shape how our children, and our children’s children find out about what happened during the Shoah and understand the importance of joining together to ensure it never happens again.
‘The challenge is to create a sacred space for reflection, but also a place for learning in which people can take real meaning from history. I have no doubt that this competition will attract the quality of designs that this important memorial so richly deserves.’
Source: Image by Patche99z
Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants, added: ‘There could hardly be a more precious or resonant setting for the memorial. The competition is a global search for talent, for an inspired design team, who can bring the highest architectural skills to this emblematic site – within breathing distance of the Westminster UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the heart of democracy in the UK.
‘The successful shortlisted teams will need to excel in design, interpretation and landscape, and above all, combine a profound understanding of the project’s values with exceptional place-making.’
Victoria Tower Gardens is home to several landmark monuments including the sculpture The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin and a 1930 statue of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The gardens were created in the 1870s by Joseph Bazalgette.
Feilden + Mawson completed a new £7.4 million Parliamentary Education Centre in the park last year, providing a space for schoolchildren visiting parliament. Other landmark structures within the gardens include the Buxton Memorial Fountain commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1834.
Following an initial expressions of interest round, shortlisted teams in the competition will be invited to submit two-part designs, which will be taken forward subject to technical, financial, planning and other constraints.
The first part must focus on the national memorial while the second part will cover the learning centre.
All finalists’ designs will feature in an exhibition in January, and the winning scheme is expected to be announced next summer.
How to apply
The deadline for applications is 2pm on 17 October
Malcolm Reading Consultants
29 Lincoln’s Inn Fields
Ottawa Holocaust Monument case study: Q&A with Carla Swickerath
The principal at Libeskind Studio discusses lessons learned designing a new Holocaust memorial in Canada
How did your Canadian National Holocaust Monument create a new public site to memorialise the Holocaust?
The Monument in Ottawa is conceived as an experiential landscape of loss, memory and survival. It is comprised of six triangular, concrete volumes configured to create the points of a star organized around a large gathering space for ceremonies. The star remains the visual symbol of the Holocaust – a symbol that millions of Jews were forced to wear by the Nazi’s to identify them as Jews, exclude them from humanity and mark them for extermination. Original, large scale monochromatic photographic landscapes of Holocaust sites – death camps, killing fields and forests – by photographer Edward Burtynsky — will be displayed on the concrete walls of each of the triangular spaces. Each one of these volumes provides a unique theme and ambiance for interpretation, contemplation and artistic expression.
Surrounding the spaces, a forest designed by Claude Comier + Associes composed of various coniferous trees will emerge from the rocky pebbled ground. This landscape will evolve over time representative of how Canadian survivors and their children have contributed to Canada.
What issues might be important when designing a Holocaust memorial in a prominent city centre location such as Victoria Tower Gardens?
Designing a memorial is a complicated and extremely sensitive process — especially in a major city like London. Holocaust Memorials commemorate a profoundly deep dislocation and our understanding of this genocide reorients us in time. With the National Monument in Ottawa, it was important that the memorial told the inclusive story of the Holocaust. That story included homosexuals, Roma-Sinti, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political and religious prisoners. It was also paramount that the memorial be an active public space for memory, reflection, and hope.
Why are national monuments such as these needed in cities around the world such as London?
National monuments are important as places of memory and mourning as well as spaces for questioning and learning – experiences built for nations to heal and move forward, but perhaps most importantly to serve future generations. Monuments should be contemplative, public spaces for reflection representing our collective commitment to a shared responsibility to create a better future.