The new Holocaust memorial in Westminster will be built by the leading British architect Sir David Adjaye and the Israeli designer Ron Arad, it was announced today.
Sir David and Mr Arad’s team, together with Gustafson Porter +Bowman, were unanimously selected by a jury which included the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Mayor of London, the Chief Rabbi, experts from architecture, art and design, and both first and second generation Holocaust survivors
The Ghanaian-born Sir David’s recent work includes the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and the Idea Stores in London’s Tower Hamlets.
Sited next to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, the new UK Holocaust Memorial will honour the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and all other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, gay and disabled people.
The proposed Learning Centre, next to the Memorial building, will use the stories and facts of the Holocaust to explore antisemitism, extremism, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia and other forms of hatred and prejudice in society today.
The jury 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 will enter a memorial embedded in the land.
Jewish News asked Israeli Ron Arad, part of the winning design team, why he had sought to enter the competition for the Holocaust Memorial in the first place. Mr Arad, who is based in London, was emotional after watching a short film which was a montage of Holocaust survivors’ faces and voices, urging support for the project. He said: “In Israel we are deluged with information about the Holocaust, and I thought I was immune. I have just learned that I am not immune.”
Survivor Ben Helfgott, MBE, who was a member of the jury, said: “I am very proud of my involvement in the many key Holocaust education projects in the UK over recent decades, none more so than this vital UK national Memorial and Learning Centre in its uniquely significant location next to the Mother of Parliaments.
“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, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, 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. Congratulations to the Adjaye Associates team who will deliver on this crucial mission.”
Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush said: “The design is at once sympathetic to its setting and also appropriately disruptive. Our hope is that the finished memorial will provide a fitting monument to the suffering of the victims of the Shoah.”
“We pay tribute to the distinguished judging panel which has painstakingly examined and scrutinised a large number of very high quality designs and performed the difficult task of selecting the deserving winner.
“We warmly welcome the commitment that the Government has shown to recognising the enormity of the Shoah and its lessons for humanity. The memorial’s location at the heart of political life in our capital city underscores its significance and the particular responsibility of our politicians to stand up to hatred, particularly in these days of rising populism and extremism.
“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, Chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, said: “We are thrilled that the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is a step closer, following today’s announcement of the winning design.
“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.”