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National Holocaust memorial design competition launched

Image by malcolm reading consultants and emily whitfield wicks2
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The government has launched an international design competition for a national Holocaust memorial next to the Palace of Westminster in London

The competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, invites designers, architects and artists to submit proposals for a ‘striking’ memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens (pictured) commemorating the Holocaust.

Schemes should include a below-ground learning centre, contextualising the monument and featuring audio recordings of British Holocaust survivors and camp liberators.

The monument and learning centre will together provide a space for quiet reflection and national commemorations while also signposting visitors to other Holocaust educational resources across the UK.

Announcing the contest during Prime Minister’s Questions today (14 September), Theresa May said: ‘We need to ensure that we never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and the lessons that must be learnt from it.

‘It is right that we have agreed this national memorial, next to Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens. This will ensure that there will be opportunities for young people and others to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and the appalling atrocities that took place.’

The chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, said: ‘This international design competition is a unique opportunity to enshrine the memory of the Shoah in British history for generations to come.

‘It will shape how our children, and our children’s children find out about what happened during the Shoah and understand the importance of joining together to ensure it never happens again.

‘The challenge is to create a sacred space for reflection, but also a place for learning in which people can take real meaning from history. I have no doubt that this competition will attract the quality of designs that this important memorial so richly deserves.’

Malcolm Reading of Malcolm Reading Consultants, added: ‘There could hardly be a more precious or resonant setting for the memorial. The competition is a global search for talent, for an inspired design team, who can bring the highest architectural skills to this emblematic site – within breathing distance of the Westminster UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the heart of democracy in the UK.

‘The successful shortlisted teams will need to excel in design, interpretation and landscape, and above all, combine a profound understanding of the project’s values with exceptional place-making.’

Plans for a competition to deliver a ‘striking and prominent’ memorial within the Thames-side gardens were first announced by David Cameron in January.

His announcement followed a report by the Holocaust Commission that looked at how the country should ‘ensure the memory of the Holocaust is preserved and that the lessons it teaches are never forgotten’.

The document, entitled Britain’s Promise to Remember, included concept designs drawn up by John McAslan + Partners for a memorial within the Millbank Tower as part of plans to revamp the grade II-listed tower (see AJ 29.07.15).

The memorial project is being taken taken forward by the cross-party backed UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation chaired by Peter Bazalgette.

Board members include the SNP’s Alex Salmond, Conservative peer Andrew Feldman, former Labour MP Ed Balls and Liberal Democrat peer David Alliance.

Victoria Tower Gardens is home to several landmark monuments including the sculpture The Burghers of Calais by Auguste Rodin and a 1930 statue of the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. The gardens were created in the 1870s by Joseph Bazalgette

Feilden + Mawson completed a new £7.4 million Parliamentary Education Centre  in the park last year, providing a space for schoolchildren visiting parliament.

Other landmark structures within the gardens include the Buxton Memorial Fountain commemorating the abolition of slavery in 1834.

Following an initial expressions of interest round, shortlisted teams in the competition will be invited to submit two-part designs, which will be taken forward subject to technical, financial, planning and other constraints.

The first part must focus on the national memorial while the second part will cover the learning centre .

All finalists’ designs will feature in an exhibition in January, and the winning scheme is expected to be announced next summer.

The deadline for applications is 2pm on 17 October.

How to apply

Visit the competition website for more information


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