Landscape of loss, memory and survival.
The design for the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa emerges from the star that was used during the Holocaust as a symbol to mark Jews for extermination, among other persecuted populations such as homosexuals, Roma, Sinti, Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as other political and religious prisoners. The geometry for the monument is rooted in the star to become six triangular volumes built of concrete and wire mesh, producing jagged shifting planes that penetrate the sky. Organized around a central gathering space for commemorations, the six surrounding volumes convey thematic, interpretive, and contemplative moods linked to the experience of the Holocaust. The ‘journey through the star’ is organized on two levels of terrain, one that moves upwards towards the future, and the other that descends into the landscape of the monument. The `Stairs of Hope` connects these two levels of the structure terminating with dramatic views to the Parliament Buildings.
A landscape of low coniferous trees inspired by the Boreal forest, a powerful symbol of the Canadian physical landscape, surrounds the built portion of the monument to represent, on Canadian terrain, resilience in adapting to and surviving a harsh and punishing environmental. Coniferous trees have effectively developed adaptive traits to survive within a harsh boreal climate that is characterized by long, very cold, dry winters and short, cool moist summers. The landscape planting is composed of a patterned gradient that transitions from density to sparseness as one moves towards the monument. Triggering a mental leap, this gesture is mirrored on the ground surface by a gradient of round granite pebbles that transition from large to small. Tree seedlings of different sizes at the initial planting will create a visually striking forested ground carpet that will evolve over time to become an ever-changing landscape that, through ongoing maintenance, will manifest the process of memory as an active gesture of engagement.
Government of Canada
Lord Cultural Resources, Studio Daniel Libeskind - Architecture, Edward Burtynsky - Artist-photographer, Doris Bergen - Subject Matter Advisor / Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto
Award of Merit – The American Institute of Architects – in collaboration with Studio Libeskind
Winning team – National Design Competition 2014
Plaza / Garden