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David Adjaye says ‘disrupting’ the park is key to his Holocaust memorial thinking


A national Holocaust Memorial that is an evocative record of the tragic past and a permanent warning for the future would be a great idea. Unfortunately, this proposal's entire conception is to settle for a theme park. The catastrophic choice of site was at the insistence of David Cameron, making the second lousiest decision of his premiership. The memorial design was not the outcome of the sort of wide competition that produced the brilliant Pompidou Centre and the Washington Vietnam Memorial, but from a selected shortlist judged by representative functionaries, which may explain why its design appears uninspiring and third rate. The design submitted to Westminster planners introduces unacceptable turbulence in tranquil Victoria Tower Gardens, a supposedly protected Royal Park; it miscalculates the public space required for suitable use of a Holocaust Memorial, which should have a quiet and amply sized working library for scholars, as well as a learning centre for school crowds and visitors off tour busses; and it proposes to place an inevitable attraction to terrorism alongside our principal structures of government. The worst of it is that approval of this wretched scheme would tragically preclude a better-considered Holocaust Memorial on an appropriate site. The decisive reason this proposal should be rejected by concerned planners is that it ignores Parliament's own likely future requirements in 10 to 50 years. The proposed expenditure of billions for the refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster has earmarked nothing for an adopted masterplan that should be considering enhancement to the entire parliamentary precinct, including, for example, how Victoria Tower Gardens might be enlarged by rerouted traffic and improved by pedestrianisation that could begin from Parliament Square. A masterplan, which every decent university and corporation undertakes, is vital to determining needs and connections and designing for the future. An approved masterplan should have self-evidently preceded a planning application like this. Nathan Silver RIBA

Posted date

7 February, 2019

Posted time

7:20 pm