New Holocaust memorials around the world

Earlier in February, Rome based SET Architects unveiled their new Shoah Holocaust Memorial in Bologna, Italy. The piece sits on the city square and is designed to empathise with the feelings of the victims of the tragedy. It captures the attention of the public with its two imposing 10 by 10 metre tall symmetrical steel blocks.

The blocks tower above the square and are separated by a narrow alley. They are placed adjacent to one another so that they converge, meaning the gap starts at 160cm at one end before narrowing to just 80cm at the other, creating a feeling of increasing oppression when people walk through. On the inside of the memorial there are steel boxes designed to represent the cells and dormitories of concentration camps.

The path between the boxes is paved with ballast to represent train lines. Lights are installed in the floor to illuminate the structure and cast shadows in the boxes when they come on at night, creating a haunting effect. During the day the path is dimly lit as light filters in from above and from the sides.

The two blocks are made from Corten steel, a group of alloys that develop a stable layer of corrosion when they are exposed to the elements for a period of time. The rust will spread over time, making the piece look like it is ageing. The material was chosen for this reason and because it means the piece will not need regular painting to protect it.

The Bologna Shoah Memorial becomes the latest in a new wave of Holocaust memorials. Last year a former home at Westerbork concentration camp in the Netherlands was enclosed in glass to preserve the structure and ensure it stands as a lasting reminder of the tragedy. Canada will soon become home to a National Holocaust Monument. It is currently the only allied nation without one but plans are in place to resolve this with the creation of a memorial in Ottawa.

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