This week, the competition organizer Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) announced the winner of the U.K. Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition. London-based firms Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad Associates, and Gustafson Porter + Bowman were unanimously selected from 10 finalist teams, including firms such as London-based Foster + Partners, New York–based Studio Libeskind, and London-based Zaha Hadid Architects.
Architect David Adjaye, Hon. FAIA, who worked on the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., will lead the memorial project that is set to be located adjacent to the Palace of Westminster, a Grade I-listed building in London's Victoria Tower Gardens. The team's design concept for the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre includes a wide entrance marked by 23 vertical bronze panels forming 22 pathways, each representing a country that lost its Jewish population in the Holocaust. Inside the underground learning center, the space is comprised of two rooms: "hall of testimonies" and "contemplation court," where eight tall vertical bronze panels create a contemplative atmosphere.
"Entering the Memorial would be a sensory experience," according to a press release. "While the outside and inside space emphasizes collective gathering, the 23 bronze fins require the visitor to enter in an isolated, solitary way, each pathway planned as a different experience. Each path eventually leads down into the Threshold—a generous hall which acts as a place of contemplation and transition into the learning center below ground."
"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 in the same release. "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."
The international design competition was launched back in 2016 with a design brief calling for creating a living monument. The jury team—comprised of government officials, architects, and journalists—selected the winning project because of the design's sensitivity to the context and history of the Holocaust. Additionally, the two teams led by Heneghan Peng Architects and Diamond Schmitt Architects received honorable mentions.
The project is expected to be completed by 2021.