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Redesign for Adjaye and Arad’s controversial Holocaust Memorial


David Adjaye and Ron Arad’s contentious Holocaust Memorial planned for a small park in Westminster has been redesigned after a groundswell of opposition to the scheme

According to a letter, seen by the AJ, the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation (UKHMF) is set to submit a revised application for the project at Victoria Tower Gardens.

It follows a huge row over the location of the memorial and criticism of what UNESCO called its ‘dominating’ design, which includes 23 bronze fins, an entrance pavilion and an underground learning centre.

The architects have gone back to the drawing board to revise designs for the main entrance pavilion, the entrance courtyard and landscaping, as well as reducing its basement footprint.

The letter from the UKHMF reads: ‘The revised application follows a comprehensive period of consultation in which hundreds of residents in Westminster, and further afield, have responded both positively and negatively to the application

‘UKHMF has listened carefully during the consultation, and the revised proposals are a response to some of the comments received in addition to those received from statutory consultees.’

The rethink follows a huge volume of objections lodged with Westminster Council over the project as well as opposition from high-profile bodies including Historic England, the UK branch of Icomos (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) and the Royal Parks

Concerns mainly centre on the location for the government-backed memorial, with local residents and campaigners from Save Victoria Tower Gardens (SVTG) arguing the structure will ‘destroy a treasured park’. 

Architect Barbara Weiss, who helps run the SVTG group said: ‘The consequences of a resubmission will cause massive delays, cost a fortune in terms of taxpayers’ money for abortive work, and create havoc for everyone involved.’

‘This complete failure to think through the first application is a clear consequence of the lack of listening that has been the hallmark of this ill-fated project.’

The scheme has also received support from 174 MPs and peers who signed a letter in support of the proposal. They included Kindertransport refugee and Labour peer Alf Dubs and Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also thrown his weight behind the proposals, saying he was ‘deeply concerned’ it could be rejected.

UK Holocaust memorial charities, including the Holocaust Educational Trust and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, have also backed the project, while a letter of support has been sent from rabbis of nine Westminster synagogues. 

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has been approached for comment.

FINAL: Designs for Adjaye Associates' Holocaust Memorial in Westminster

FINAL: Designs for the new Holocaust Memorial in Westminster by Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad and Gustafson Porter + Bowman

Previous design for the proposed Holocaust Memorial by Adjaye Associates, Ron Arad and Gustafson Porter + Bowman


Readers' comments (5)

  • Alf Dubs, Luciana Berger, Sadiq Khan, the MPs and peers, the two Trusts and the Westminster rabbis should all be ashamed of themselves for continuing to push for this development on such an inappropriate location - instead of combining their efforts to finding a site that could do the idea full justice without 'treading on toes'.
    If they carry on like this it'll begin to look similar to the tactics of those developers who customarily propose something excessive in the expectation of wearing down the planners to achieve their objective.

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  • I am fed up of Holocaust Memorials.
    Please built one to Stalin's Holocaust

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  • How about a garden bridge memorial to unlikely memorials? However, cynicism usually leads to an unhappy siding?

    We mustn’t forget all those who suffered at the hands of the extremists, and are still suffering on an albeit smaller scale. Syria? Christchurch? Sri Lanka? Venezuela? But things are getting better? First we have to avoid climate change, then there will be other challenges, as yet unknown.

    In Chiswick, London, there is a modest group of houses built to remember the fallen of WW1, and house some of the wounded survivors. It’s just been refurbished, and added to. So how about a series of Code 5 housing developments, all over the world? For anyone, perhaps asking them for help to build, and teaching their kids new skills?

    David Adjaye And chums to start the ball rolling. Involve the entertainment industries to raise awareness and starter funds? A bit like what Maggi Centres have done for cancer care? Does the RIBA have the ability to co ordinate?

    Go to it!! (now I have some drawings to finish on the kitchen table. Might even get the drawing board out of hibernation?)

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  • Whoever here thinks that memorial’s location is inappropriate must study events prior to WW2 and Holocaust aftermath, especially the reluctance of Britain and its prime minister at that time to stop Hitler’s expansion on Czechoslovakia and other subsequent territories prior to the conflict. It will be a painful reminder of those single minded political decisions for future generations. Hope we won’t see Brexit memorial at some point as well.

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  • '....must study events prior to WW2 and Holocaust aftermath...' - this encompasses a grim litany of mass persecution and slaughter, ranging widely and covering in recent times Cambodia, Srebrenica and Sinjar. All under our watch, and Victoria Tower Gardens just doesn't have the room to do justice to explaining the enormity of the ongoing wages of hatred and intolerance
    To accommodate what's justified in the way of both memorial and learning centre surely requires a far more spacious site.

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