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Holocaust Memorial Completed in Amsterdam

Monday, October 25, 2021

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Studio Libeskind, owned by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, has recently completed a Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

The Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names features a labyrinth of brick walls and angular mirrors to commemorate the 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust. The project was commissioned by the Nederlands Auschwitz Comité and was officially inaugurated on Sept. 19.

As stated in the project’s title, the memorial was constructed using 102,000 bricks that are inscribed with names of Holocaust victims from World War II. The project also utilized an additional 1,000 blank bricks to memorialize victims who remain unknown.

Arranged in a series of two-meter-high walls, the angled memorial is crowned by four mirrored stainless steel volumes. According to Libeskind, the mirrored volumes were designed to emulate four Hebrew letters, which form a word that translates as “in memory of” when viewed together from above.

“Brick, a ubiquitous building material in the Netherlands and cities of Western Europe, paired with the highly reflective and geometric forms of the steel letters reference the connection between Amsterdam's past and present,” Studio Libeskind said.

The memorial is complemented by crushed stone, trees and monolithic seating. A large border around the memorial featured lined hedges and bronze-colored panels.

UK Holocaust Memorial

Earlier this summer, it was announced that the David Adjaye’s proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Westminster, London, was moving forward after gaining approval from the Minister of State for Housing, Christopher Pincher.

The memorial has drawn a considerable amount of backlash in the Commonwealth since being announced in 2017. The original design featured 23 tall bronze fins with the 22 spaces in between them representing the 22 countries in which Jewish communities were devastated during the Holocaust.

But since then, the design has been met with strong criticism about its location, size and overall appearance.

Adjaye spoke to The Times about the location critique, noting that there are already two memorials in the park and stressing the importance of having the monument near Parliament.

Groups opposed to the decision, including the city’s Royal Parks Authority, claimed that it will disrupt the garden.

In May 2019, design changes were made to the memorial. While the overall design with the bronze fins remained intact, a few tweaks were made to give the outer appearance some subtlety.

The revised design includes:

  • Changes to the entrance, making it lighter and more transparent;
  • Changes to the roofline to ensure better views across and around the structure; and
  • Changes to the courtyard to make the space more intuitive and inclusive.

The revisions reportedly also adjusted construction and excavation to improve logistics on the site.

The monument originally had an estimated completion date of 2021, with a 100-million-pound (roughly $130 million) backing from the government.

In August, London Mayor Sadiq Kahn called on the Westminster City Council to approve the plans, which came a week after documents were uncovered that showed U.K. Holocaust Memorial Foundation co-chairs expressing misgivings about the planning process.

Moreover, some objectors to the memorial called the mayor’s words an interference of the democratic process.

Meanwhile, the Foundation co-chairs had written to the council looking at the weight that’s being given to the number of objections to the project—though, the project has also reportedly received thousands of comments in support.

Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken had responded at the time saying that the application seemed to be heading to an “unfavorable recommendation.”

About two months after that comment, in November, the government decided that then-Housing Minister Esther McVey would decide whether plans for the memorial will move forward or not, not the Westminster council.

While the U.K. Holocaust Memorial Foundation asked for the move, others called the decision to put the scheme up for federal decision a “power grab” as the announcement was made close to Parliament’s general election, which took place in December.

Westminster City Council confirmed its position of officially opposing the Memorial in February 2020.

According to The Architect’s Journal, Jenrick’s call-in for the application happened within a month of him meeting with U.K. Holocaust Memorial Foundation board members, sparking more thoughts on “less than impartial behavior.”

In July, the London Garden Trust applied for a review of Jenrick’s decision to allow his junior colleague, Housing Minister Christopher Pincher, to make the final decision on the application, which has been riddled with drama since its inception in 2017.

Then, in October of last year, the architect defended the decision to scale up the monument 23% from his original competition-winning design. Adjaye said that as the project developed it became clear that more space was needed.

He said that he was surprised by some of the criticism and maintained that the group was excited about the concept of a memorial that was also an education center.

   

Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Color + Design; Color + Design; Design; EU; Europe; Projects - Commercial; Public spaces

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