Shortlist for UK National Holocaust Memorial goes on show at V&A

Rachel Whiteread, Michal Rovner and Anish Kapoor in the running to create new structure honouring victims of Nazi persecution


Artists such as Michal Rovner, Rachel Whiteread and Anish Kapoor are among the leading cultural figures competing to create and realise the UK’s National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, which will stand in Victoria Tower Gardens next to Parliament.

The shortlisted concept designs from ten competing teams are on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London (until 22 August) as part of a public consultation. A jury consisting of 13 members including Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, and Julia Peyton-Jones, the former director of the Serpentine Galleries, will meet at the V&A next month to choose the winner.

Israeli artist Rovner is part of a team led by the London-based architect Foster + Partners (other partners include the historian Simon Schama and the high-tech art organisation Future\Pace). Their project statement says: “With minimum disturbance to the park, a steel ramp descends into the earth. Evocative of train tracks that terminated in the camps or the brown brick lined corridors leading down to the gas chambers. This is the way to the Time Left Memorial.”

Rovner plans to create an installation within the memorial showing projected images of 60,000 human figures in motion. “In time, there will be nearly 60,000 figures walking. I erased the identifying features so it can be anybody. It could be them. It can be us,” she says in a film screened at the V&A.

The proposal by Caruso St John Architects, Marcus Taylor and Rachel Whiteread comprises two parts: a cast translucent sculpture of the Buxton Memorial, unveiled in 1866 at Victoria Tower Gardens, and the Hall of Voices where visitors will hear the accounts of Holocaust survivors.

Kapoor has teamed up with Zaha Hadid Architects for a dramatic proposal centred on a meteorite-like structure surrounded by a grove of cypress trees. “Meteorites, mountains and stones are often at the centre of places of reflection, especially in the Jewish tradition,” a project statement says.

The initiative is backed by the UK government department for Communities and Local Government. Sajid Javid, the department secretary, says that the new memorial “is really a powerful reminder of what happens if you leave hatred unchecked”. 

All of the designs can be viewed here.