Ten finalist teams named for U.K. National Holocaust Memorial competition


Ten finalist teams named for U.K. National Holocaust Memorial competition

The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation has announced its shortlist of ten teams to design the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center in Victoria Tower Gardens, adjacent the Palace of Westminster and in the heart of London. Whittled down from almost one hundred international entries, the finalists’ proposals are currently traveling on display throughout the U.K. while the foundation proceeds with the interview phase.

The competition, announced in September of 2016, seeks a team to create a “sensitively-designed Memorial and Learning Centre that is emotionally powerful while offering visitors an opportunity to deepen their understanding of humanity’s darkest hour.” The brief calls for a distinct memorial adjacent to the River Thames with a subterranean education center. 

The building’s construction is estimated to cost £40 million with the British government allocating £50 million in public funds to see the project through to completion (the £50 million figure also includes the creation and operation of the Centre, as well as other related education efforts). The education facility is said to “not be a conventional exhibition or teaching [center]” and will extend 2,650 square meters under the park’s lawn. The chosen architect will have to contend with a complex program that must balance with the historic nature of the site. Furthermore, one member of the House of Commons has cited concerns that construction in London’s public parkland might set a dangerous precedent for future development of the city’s open space, among other potential issues.

Zaha Hadid Architects with artist Anish Kapoor
A bronze monolith sculpted by Anish Kapoor and a Zaha Hadid Architects–designed structure would extend from a sunken courtyard and designate the National Holocaust Memorial as striking new landmark in London.

John McAslan + Partners with MASS Design Group
Drawing from Jewish traditions, this team has developed a sensitive design approach for the engagement of visitors to the site.

Studio Libeskind with Haptic Architects
Studio Libeskind is familiar with crafting sites to memorialize the Holocaust, having designed several such buildings across Europe. This effort recalls the similar abstraction of form and space characteristic of those earlier works.  

heneghan peng architects with design agency Bruce Mau Design
Proposing a structure that obscures the senses at some junctures and heightens them at others, this design focuses on the phenomenological experiences of its visitors.

Foster + Partners with artist Michal Rovner
This proposal is arranged as a long axial path for contemplation and sensory stimulation; visitors would descend a ramp underground before reemerging up a long flight of stairs into the park.

Diamond Schmitt Architects with landscape architect Martha Schwartz Partners
Using a simple ovular shape, this design integrates both the memorial and learning center into one sweeping gesture.

Allied Works with artist Robert Montgomery
Focusing acutely on building a powerful narrative for the site, this heterogenous team led by Allied Works includes sculptor and poet Robert Montgomery, who adds his incisive urban art-form to the proposal.

Caruso St John with artist Rachel Whiteread
This design focuses on the contextual elements of the site and the dramatic unfolding of space through sculptural cast glass and filtered light.

Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects with David Morley Architects
Located in a highly stylized landscape, the team lead by Finnish firm Lahdelma & Mahlamäki Architects has designed a distinct procession for visitors to experience.

Adjaye Associates with Ron Arad Architects
Using repeating geometric shapes to draw the visitor to the entrance of the center, the designers aim to emphasize the many layers of the British experience of the Holocaust.

The jury is composed of many experts in Jewish Studies, architecture, public land use, and public works, and will select a winner later this summer to develop a final design.


Sir Peter Bazalgette (Jury Chair) – Chair United Kingdom Holocaust Memorial Foundation and Chair, ITV Board

The Lord Daniel Finkelstein OBE – Journalist
Alice M. Greenwald – President and CEO of National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Loyd Grossman CBE – Chair, Royal Parks
Ben Helfgott MBE – Holocaust Survivor, Honorary President, ’45 Aid Society and President, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust
Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP – Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
Natasha Kaplinsky – Broadcaster
Rt Hon Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis – Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom
Sally Osman – Director of Royal Communications
Dame Julia Peyton-Jones DBE – Former Director of the Serpentine Galleries
Paul Williams OBE – Director, Stanton Williams Architects
Malcolm Reading – Competition Director and Advisor to the Jury