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Jewish peers call for Adjaye’s Holocaust Memorial to be dropped

  • 4 Comments

A group of Jewish peers has called for the controversial £50 million memorial and learning centre at Victoria Tower Gardens to be dropped and the money to be spent on education and a ‘simpler memorial’

In a letter to The Times, seven lords and a baroness, several of whom lost family members in the Holocaust, said the scheme ignored ’well-founded protests’ from neighbours.

The peers criticised David Adjaye and Ron Arad’s designs for the Holocaust Memorial in Westminster, which they said ’evokes neither the Holocaust nor Jewish history’

The government-backed memorial project has faced criticism from local residents, who say the royal park is the wrong location for the memorial. 

’It would be far better to redeploy the £50 million allocated to the new scheme to a smaller, simpler memorial in Westminster, enhancement of the Imperial Museum project and to further study of the impact of Holocaust learning and memorials,’ the letter reads.

The peers were also unimpressed by the scheme’s design, which includes 23 bronze fins, a subterranean learning centre and a recently added entrance pavilion and courtyard.

’The design evokes neither the Holocaust nor Jewish history, and the risk is that its purpose will not be obvious to passers-by,’ they said.

Signatories to the letter include TV executive Michael Grade, former P&O chairman Jeffrey Sterling, former Lib Dem QC Lord Carlile, law professor Ruth Deech, textiles magnate Simon Haskel, Hampstead businessman Parry Mitchell, gastroenterologist Leslie Turnberg and Lib Dem peer Monroe Palmer.

Last month opponents of the memorial staged a demonstration outside a public launch of the scheme’s latest designs.

A spokesman for the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation said: While the design of the memorial originates in the Holocaust narrative, it is meant neither as a literal nor symbolic representation of the Holocaust or of Jewish history in general.

’The Holocaust defies simplification and the design of the memorial is intended to evoke a range of emotional responses from passers-by and visitors alike – integrating a learning Centre, a memorial and a landscape into a single whole.’

’The Holocaust Memorial will remind us all that a central role of democracy is to encourage tolerance of ethnic, religious and racial differences.

’And no location in Britain is more suitable for the Memorial than Victoria Tower Gardens, alongside Parliament and amidst prominent memorials commemorating the struggle against slavery, inequality and injustice.’

Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad were approached for comment.

WINNER of UK HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL COMPETITION: Adjaye Associates (UK) with Ron Arad Associates, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, DHA, All Clear, Accept & Proceed, Abigail Morris, and Jonathan Safran Foer

Original competition-winning designs from October 2017: Adjaye Associates (UK) with Ron Arad Associates, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, DHA, All Clear, Accept & Proceed, Abigail Morris, and Jonathan Safran Foer

Source: Adjaye Associates & Malcolm Reading Consultants

Original competition-winning designs from October 2017: Adjaye Associates (UK) with Ron Arad Associates, Gustafson Porter + Bowman, DHA, All Clear, Accept & Proceed, Abigail Morris, and Jonathan Safran Foer, AKTII, AECOM
 

  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • The spokesman is getting into a tangle with words struggling to make the case. Just say 'The Holocaust defies simplification', stop at that and move on. This design is trying hard but fails as a place, is not an enhancement of a listed garden and makes no contribution to the setting of a Grade 1 building and World Heritage site. Better to follow the suggestions of the peers.

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  • I couldn't agree more with the peers but - pace the summer's Labour party difficulties - have felt unable to express an opinion. Now those with a rock solid involvement have spoken out, perhaps this damaging scheme could be ditched. London is not Berlin, where Peter Eisenman's elegant memorial, and the many lesser ones, are essential.
    While anti semitism in the UK is clearly still real, education would be a far better use of the money.

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  • Architecturally, this looks like grandstanding to me. Politically, these days of cultural genocidal waged against muslims, would seem to demand far more vigorous use of such public spaces: for anti-war protests.

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  • The case made by the peers for a rethink was convincingly supported by Barbara Weiss on BBC R4 'Sunday' this morning.

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