‘Critical phase' in campaign against Holocaust memorial after winning design is unveiled

Organisers hope education centre next to Parlilament will help future generations strive for better future

Friday, 27th October 2017 — By Tom Foot


The winning memorial design

CAMPAIGNERS aiming to stop a Holocaust memorial being built in a public park say they are entering a “critical phase” after a winning design for the £50million project was unveiled this week.

Sir David Adjaye has been named as the designer of the proposed memorial and education centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, following a decision by a panel including Holocaust survivors, the government’s communities secretary and the Chief Rabbi.

“We wanted to orchestrate an experience that reminds us of the fragility and constant strife for a more equitable world,” Sir David said of the scheme. “It is critical these highly important and emotive historical touch-points are explored, so that future generations are able to experience, learn, reflect and act.”

However the plans are facing objections from community, heritage groups and councillors in Westminster.

More than 1,760 have signed a petition against the memorial, due for completion by 2021, warning that the project will cause unacceptable overcrowding, increase traffic, and create a security concern.

The memorial honours the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust, and all other victims of Nazi persecution, including Roma, gay and disabled people. Barbara Weiss, an architect who launched a petition about the plans, said: “The promoters are going ahead gung-ho, pretending that a positive outcome of their project is beyond discussion, and that they are set to over- come every possible hurdle placed in their way. The hurdles that face them are, however, many and will not be easy to over  come.

“Following the tragic recent events, security concerns in relation to terrorism have never been higher in the UK, and Westminster is potentially the area at highest risk of all throughout the country. While we all agree that a democratic society must never give in to bullies and terrorists, a development such as the Holocaust Monument and Learning Centre in this area may be seen as yet another high-profile target for anti-Semitic terrorism, and will only exacerbate the risk of attack.

“This in turn will lead to the need for yet more extreme security measures to be put in place which, in turn, will con- tribute exponentially to altering for ever the current tranquil nature of this very special and much- loved oasis of peace and leisure.”

In June Ms Weiss told the Westminster Extra: “Everybody is completely on board with the content of the memorial. What we have a major problem with is the location.”

Other objectors include Lucy Peck, from The Thorney Island Society, and St James’s ward councillor Tim Mitchell.

Ghanaian-born Sir David’s recent work includes the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC and the Idea Stores in London’s Tower Hamlets.

His firm Adjaye Associates has been selected along with Ron Arad Architects and Gustafson Porter + Bowman to take the project forward.

The design includes 23 tall bronze fins with spaces between represent- ing the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were devastated during the Holocaust. The 23 bronze fins require the visitor to enter in solitude and isolation, providing a highly individual pathway and experience, the design team said.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, chairman of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation, said the project will be a “statement by the British people that our nation will remember those who suffered, and that we will always strive for a better future”.

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