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Revealed: world's biggest names in running for UK Holocaust memorial

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Norman Foster, Daniel Libeskind, David Adjaye and Caruso St John are all on a stellar 10-strong shortlist to design a £40 million national Holocaust memorial next to Parliament

Also in the running for the project in Victoria Tower Gardens are Heneghan Peng, Zaha Hadid Architects with Anish Kapoor, Finnish stars Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects, John McAslan + Partners, US practice Allied Works, and Canada’s Diamond Schmitt Architects.

The competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, attracted almost 100 entries from 26 countries.

As well as the memorial, the scheme could also include a subterranean learning centre, housing recordings of testimony from British Holocaust survivors and camp liberators. 

The concept designs by the 10 finalists will be exhibited in central London and locations around the UK from January 2017.

They will be judged by a high-profile jury, chaired by Peter Bazalgette, including communities secretary Sajid Javid, mayor of London Sadiq Khan, the chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky.

Shortlisted teams in full

  • Adjaye Associates (UK) with Ron Arad Associates, Gustafson Porter, DHA, All Clear, Accept & Proceed, Abigail Morris, and Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Allied Works (US) with Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Robert Montgomery, OLIN, and Lisa Strausfeld
  • Caruso St John (UK) with Rachel Whiteread, Marcus Taylor, Vogt Landscape Architects, Arup Lighting Design, and David Bonnett Associates
  • Diamond Schmitt Architects (CA) with Martha Schwartz Partners, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates
  • Foster + Partners (UK) with Michal Rovner and Future\Pace, Local Projects, Avner Shalev, Simon Schama, Samantha Heywood, Tillotson Design Associates, David Bonnett Associates, and Whybrow
  • heneghan peng architects (IE) with Gustafson Porter, Event, Bruce Mau Design, BuroHappold Engineering, Bartenbach, and Duncan Boddy (PFB Construction)
  • John McAslan + Partners (UK) with MASS Design Group, DP9, London Communications Agency, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Local Projects, Modus Operandi, JencksSquared, and Lily Jencks Studio
  • Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects (FI) with David Morley Architects, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and Hemgård Landscape Design
  • Studio Libeskind (US) with Haptic Architects, Martha Schwartz Partners, Lord Cultural Resources, BuroHappold Engineering, Alan Baxter, Garbers & James, and James E. Young
  • Zaha Hadid Architects (UK) with Anish Kapoor, Event London, Sophie Walker Studio, Lord Cultural Resources, Arup Lighting Design, Whybrow, and Access=Design

Javid said: ‘I am delighted that such an impressive line-up of the world’s best architects, artists and designers are getting involved and helping create our new National Memorial to the Holocaust.

‘It will stand as a permanent reminder of where prejudice and hatred can lead, and it will show our commitment to the fight against antisemitism, in all its forms.’

Khan said:My first public engagement as mayor was at the Yom HaShoah commemorations in London where I had the incredible honour of meeting and hearing from Jewish survivors and refugees who went through unimaginable horrors in the Holocaust. This experience reminds me once again why we must never forget these atrocities.

’I’m proud to support plans to create a National Memorial of the Holocaust in the heart of London.

‘I look forward to joining the jury to choose a landmark to pay a fitting tribute to the six million Jewish lives lost in what was one of the darkest hours for humanity.’

Jury in full

  • Peter Bazalgette (Jury Chair), Chair, United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Chair, ITV Board
  • Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom
  • Sajid Javid MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
  • Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
  • Ben Helfgott, holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, ’45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
  • Sally Osman, director of Royal Communications
  • Loyd Grossman, chair of Royal Parks
  • Alice M Greenwald, director, National September 11 Memorial and Museum
  • Daniel Finkelstein, journalist
  • Baroness Kidron, film director and crossbench peer
  • Dame Julia Peyton-Jones, former director of the Serpentine Galleries
  • Paul Williams, director, Stanton Williams Architects
  • Charlotte Cohen, Prime Minister’s Holocaust Youth Commissioner
  • Natasha Kaplinsky, broadcaster, Natasha recently recorded the testimony of over 100 Holocaust survivors and camp liberators.



Source: Image by Malcolm Reading Consultants and Emily Whitfield Wicks

Victoria Tower Gardens


The chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, TV executive Peter Bazalgette, explains why the £50 million competition will deliver a ‘logical and harmonious addition’ to Victoria Tower Gardens

Why is a national Holocaust memorial needed? 

This is the last chance for Britain’s Holocaust survivors to witness the establishment of a fitting new national memorial. It shows them that as a nation we are serious in our commitment to remember the Holocaust, but also that we will do all we can to stand up against all forms of hatred and prejudice in the future.

It is so important that we always remember the Holocaust, out of respect for all those who suffered, but also as a warning about how enlightened societies can plummet into the deepest abyss of moral depravity. It teaches us about the need for vigilance, at all times, in defence of inclusive and participatory democracy.

Why is Victoria Tower Gardens the most appropriate location?

There is no better location than Victoria Tower Gardens, alongside Parliament, to make such a powerful statement.

The prime minister’s Holocaust Commission, which received nearly 2,500 responses to its call for evidence, reported that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the current memorial in Hyde Park. It was not widely known about; felt to be hidden out of sight; with no context or information; and standing on its own it doesn’t provide visitors any opportunity to learn more.

The design challenge is to create a sensitively designed memorial that is relevant to people today

The strength of feeling on this was very clear, particularly from many Holocaust survivors, which is why we’re so proud and pleased to have launched an international design competition.

The design challenge now is to create a sensitively designed memorial and learning centre that is relevant to people today and for generations to come.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park

Source: Image by Pam Fray

Holocaust Memorial Garden

How will the memorial differ from others already constructed around the world?

The memorial will honour the victims of the Holocaust and all victims of Nazi persecution, with a distinctive focus on the importance of the Holocaust to the United Kingdom’s history. The learning centre will highlight the Holocaust’s contemporary relevance; and it will advance Holocaust education across the United Kingdom.

Within the learning centre we will be featuring British stories that engage visitors with the testimonies of survivors and the liberators who discovered Bergen Belsen and began the relief effort. Many of these people are speaking for the first time in over 70 years and their compelling testimonies provide a powerful reminder of why it is so important to understand the enormity of the Holocaust and the breakdown of society that made it possible, so as to warn future generations that it must never happen again.

How will the memorial, and potential learning centre, relate to existing monuments within the gardens and to the Palace of Westminster?

Victoria Tower Gardens has one of the most recognisable backdrops in the world, framed on two sides by the River Thames and the Palace of Westminster. It is an iconic location in the heart of British democracy, and the memorials already in the gardens can be viewed as a physical representation of the United Kingdom’s conscience and values.

Victoria Tower Gardens

Victoria Tower Gardens

Source: Image by Patche99z

Buxton Memorial Fountain

The Buxton Memorial celebrates the abolition of slavery, the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst represents the fight for universal suffrage, and the Burghers of Calais encourages people to reflect on civic sacrifice.

A contemporary addition includes the new Parliamentary Education Centre, opened in 2015, which aims to inspire and connect young people with parliament and democracy.

It’s vital that shortlisted teams’ designs address the sensitivities of the historic, political and national importance of the exceptional setting in one of the most visited and recognisable parts of London.

We know that Victoria Tower Gardens is a much-loved green space. We’ve made it clear to all architects, designers and artists who might be interested in the project that the new national memorial and possible learning centre should be a logical and harmonious addition to the existing memorials in the gardens and that the establishment of a new memorial and learning centre provides a chance to develop the green space, with funding for landscaping and place-making included in the project.

Victoria Tower Garden’s location alongside the Thames also provides a unique opportunity for designers to consider river views from both banks of the Thames.

If a below-ground learning centre is unfeasible in the location could it be constructed somewhere else nearby? 

The Holocaust Commission was absolutely clear that the most effective way to deliver the educational benefits of the memorial was to include on-site learning – a space where people can instantly go to gain a deeper understanding of what happened and what it means for us in Britain today.

Following an extensive search of potential sites across London and a detailed analysis of Victoria Tower Gardens, the foundation has formally recommended to government that such a learning centre should indeed be co-located (below ground) with the national memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens.

Achieving this goal is the focus of the foundation.


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