No memorial or museum for the Holocaust will ever be able to bear the weight of or bring justice to the subject it represents, but nonetheless, thousands of built structures around the world have risen over time in a noble attempt to bring honor to the lives lost in some of history’s greatest atrocities. Though difficult to design, these pieces of architecture and artistic expression are vital to maintaining focus on what it means to be human — sharing the collective responsibility of loving and caring for one another.
Today, on the 72nd anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation, the United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation has released the designs of the 10 teams shortlisted to design London’s future Holocaust Memorial.
Last September, in partnership with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Memorial Foundation launched an international two-stage design competition organized by Malcolm Reading Consultants. After receiving hundreds of submissions, the designs were narrowed down to the selection seen below. Organizers are now consulting with the public and asking people to submit feedback via email.
Check out the 10 amazing proposals here:
David Adjaye partnered with Ron Arad to design an underground memorial that invites visitors in through a striking series of separate sculptural layers rising underneath one end of parkland. Seeking to blend the simplicity of the natural surroundings with the harsh memory of the Holocaust, this dramatic, subterranean design forms a serious and educational experience within a stimulating space.
Allied Works lifted the edge of the parkland in an undulating ellipse to create a sunken space for peace and reflection. The large opening, or aperture, of the ellipse reveals an inspiring view of Parliament, bringing light literally and figuratively into the dark space below. Visitors enter the memorial through a threshold that appears to hover above a flower-filled plaza.
Caruso St. John with artist Rachel Whiteread
Caruso St. John’s proposal is an inversion of conventional memorials that are so often formed of solid, monolithic sculptural forms, like Peter Eisenman’s “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” in Berlin. Instead, negative space becomes the key element: A subterranean “cave” is filled with the voices of holocaust survivors, with natural light permeating the space via a series of lanterns dotting the lawn above.
A singular curved path brings visitors from Parliament to the entrance of Diamond Schmitt Architect’s Holocaust Memorial. The path takes the form of a helix, circling downward into a cylindrical memorial featuring a glass floor that reflects the colors worn by Jews during persecution. The exterior cast-iron shell is embossed with a pattern of rectangles representing the six million people who died in the Holocaust.
Foster + Partners with artist Michal Rovner
The entrance to Foster + Partners’ concept was designed to evoke the train tracks that routed people to the concentration camps. A long, gradually descending wall takes visitors underground where they are immediately asked to reflect upon an ambiguous artpiece by Michal Rovner featuring lines of people holding hands and leading one another, as seen above.
Heneghan peng’s design for London’s Holocaust Memorial strikes a similar resemblance to Michael Arad and Peter Walker’s 9/11 Memorial in New York, excluding a water feature. A heavy stone wall shaped in an irregular triangle features an opening where visitors are led down a narrow passageway marked with tiny individual perforations of light. This intense, personal walk concludes in a sunken courtyard where the voices of Holocaust survivors can be heard through rectangular voids in the walls.
John McAslan found inspiration for its proposal in the Jewish tradition of placing stones atop the grave sites of loved ones. Their design, with the theme of continuity and the binding together of different generations, centers around a large pile of six million stones — each representing one person slain in the Holocaust. Visitors can take a stone away with them, distributing the memory of those lost across the world.
Lahdelma & Mahlamäki’s memorial concept features two tall, curved panels that stand on top of a reflecting pool. Visitors can walk underneath the pool’s translucent glass as they navigate to the memorial’s learning center. Appropriately named the “Haven,” the project is meant to improve the visibility of the park and encourage contemplation of the journey to the concentration camps as well as others’ emancipations to Great Britain.
Studio Libeskind produced a sleek and sharp design for the Holocaust Memorial, highlighting the interplay of light and shadow within public space. An oblique, metallic wall extends upward from a descending plaza where visitors enter the memorial. Underground, visitors explore the exhibitions through intertwining spaces — all dead ends — until they stumble upon the “Path of Hope,” which ascends toward the light and above ground.
Zaha Hadid Architects and Anish Kapoor sought to bring a sense of instability to their design by placing a huge, meteorite-shaped sculpture in the center of the parkland. A grove of cypress trees leads visitors down a ramp into an undercroft where the monument sinks down like an iceberg. Below ground, the silent space stirs visitors to reflect upon the gravity of the Holocaust.