A digital rendering of the underground portion of London’s new Holocaust memorial. Illustration: Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects.

Plans Revealed for New Holocaust Memorial in London

Anna Codrea-Rado of the New York Times reports that the plans for a new Holocaust memorial in London, selected as part of an international competition, have been revealed. The design—a collaborative effort led by Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye, the Israeli architect Rod Arad, and the landscape architecture firm of Gustafson Porter & Bowman—will feature an underground learning center beneath an elevated memorial site, and will be situated in a park near the Houses of Parliament. The aboveground portion of the work will feature twenty-three “fins” made of bronze; the spaces between them serve to function as reminders of the twenty-two countries whose Jewish communities were destroyed by the Nazis. “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,” said Adjaye. The opening of the memorial is planned for 2021, and will receive $66 million of public funding.

Some of the neighboring institutions and residents of the site where the memorial will be erected, however, have issues with the work. A letter was distributed to the upper house of the British Parliament and all members of the House of Lords, saying that the gardens where the memorial is to be located will “cease to be an amenity for ordinary people,” and disrupt their function as an “oasis of calm, enjoyed as a place of exercise, play, picnics, sunbathing, and dog walking.” And the Imperial War Museum, about a mile away from the area proposed for the structure, says that the new learning center might compete with its Holocaust gallery, which is scheduled to open in 2020. The museum is asking that the plans for the education center be rethought.

For more on architect David Adjaye, see the October issue of Artforum where he discusses museum architecture with senior editor Julian Rose.