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Adjaye and Arad set to submit final designs for Holocaust Memorial

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Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects have released images of the final designs for their controversial Holocaust Memorial project in Westminster 

A planning application is set to be submitted in the coming weeks for the memorial and learning centre, which is proposed for Victoria Tower Gardens alongside the Houses of Parliament.

The scheme, which Adjaye won following an international contest in late 2017 and includes landscape architects Gustafson Porter + Bowman has been met with resistance from local residents who argue the memorial is being built in the wrong location and will ‘destroy a treasured park’. 

The design for the government-backed project includes 23 bronze fins, an entrance pavilion and an underground learning centre which will aim to improve visitors’ understanding of the Holocaust and its impact on Britain.

Following feedback from the first public exhibition, the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has said it plans to improve the setting of the Buxton Memorial to the abolition of slavery and retain the entire children’s play area.

It also has said it will create a café kiosk and consult the local community on new play equipment.

The Save Victoria Gardens Campaign (SVTG) have led a campaign against the project, staging protests and launching a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures urging the foundation to reconsider.

Architect and campaign member Barbara Weiss described the final scheme as ’over-worked, confused, fussy and very bling, exactly the opposite of the simple beauty of the current context.’

Weiss said the memorial should instead be incorporated with the Imperial War Museum in south London and added that the project had ‘started off on the wrong foot’.

’It is now mired in controversy, frustration, anger and all sorts of sentiments that should not in any way be associated with it.  We would like to see a new beginning, in which the project is re-examined from first principles in a much more transparent, democratic and sophisticated manner.

’As the daughter of a Jewish refugee, I know I speak for those who went forward before me.’

The project has also faced criticism from Jewish peers who wrote to the The Times in October, arguing that the scheme ‘evokes neither the Holocaust nor Jewish history’.

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates' Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

But Adjaye has defended the location of the memorial, arguing that Holocaust deniers have ‘festered in the UK’. 

The award-winning architect told the Evening Standard Magazine: ‘It needs to be next to Parliament. In Britain we thought we didn’t need to make a Holocaust memorial; we had liberated the concentration camps.

‘But even here, Holocaust-deniers have festered. History has taught us that we need a mechanism to remind us of what we did and why we did it.’

The UK Holocaust Memorial’s co-chair Ed Balls said: ‘The proposed Holocaust Memorial will stand as a national place of remembrance of the lives lost and the communities torn apart in the wake of decisions made in another parliament, not so far away in time or distance from our own.

’There is no better place than Victoria Tower Gardens, just metres from our own Parliament, to remind ourselves of the value of democracy and the need to keep the lessons of history at the heart of our institutions and the decisions our elected politicians make every day.’

A planning application for the Holocaust Memorial is set to be submitted in the coming weeks. 

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates' Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates’ Holocaust Memorial in Westminster


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