Bologna Shoah Memorial by SET Architects

Bologna Shoah Memorial


One year after the launch of the international competition for the realization of the Bologna Shoah Memorial, Rome-based office SET Architects, winner according to the jury presided over by Peter Eisenman, delivers the Memorial on January 27th, 2016 – to coincide with International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

Built in less than two months, the Memorial is a recognizable landmark of great emotional power. It is located at the intersection of Via dé Carracci and Ponte Matteotti, a city square encompassed by the newlyinstalled high-speed train station of Bologna. This area is primed to become the new connective pole of the city.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

As such, the monument attracts passers-by, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy of the Holocaust. The Memorial is made up of two symmetrical cor-ten steel parallelepiped blocks of 10x10m each; the blocks sit adjacent to one another, perpendicular to the existing walls of the square. Their position converges to create a path, which begins with a width of 1.60m, drastically narrowing to just 80cm.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

The path generates an immediate feeling of oppression. At the interior of the Memorial, the volumes present a grid of horizontal and vertical metal sheets which intersect at 90°, giving shape to a series of rectangular empty boxes of 1.80 x 1.25m – these boxes represent the cells of the dormitories in the concentration camps.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

The exterior façade of the Memorial overlooks the city, resembling a blank page perhaps it is of a history yet to be written? And, along the perimeter of the cells, slight steel protrusions symbolize feelings of contemporary awareness.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

The choice of cor-ten steel is deliberate: it is a material that will naturally rust when exposed to open air. As the years pass its corrosion will display the vestiges of time, demonstrating that all things have a rich history behind them. The paving of the path between the two blocks is realized in ballast, basalt stone chippings typical of the roadbeds.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

This represents the Judenrampe (“ramp of the Jewish”), which was the name given to the trek prisoners made from Auschwitz I (Stammlager concentration camp) and Auschwitz II (Birkenau
one).

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

The empty echoes of footsteps across the stones coupled with the restriction of the passage instills a keen sense of anguish: in this way the Memorial takes on life and evokes the drama of the memory. Further, light plays an essential role in the culmination of the monument.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

During daytime when the square is lit by sun’s rays, the passage becomes immersed in a dim, contemplative light, allowing the visitor to calmlyn reflect. Then at night, strategically placed artificial light illuminates the primary volumes, magnifing the majesty of the Memorial.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

In total, the Memorial, distinguished by its historical ambition, abandons rhetorical and didactic conventions in order to emphasize the importance of emotions: in this way SET Architects succeeded in designing a monument that utilizes present sensibility to narrate the past. Source by SET Architects.

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi

Location: Via Giacomo Matteotti / Via dè Carracci, Bologna, Italy
Architects: SET Architects
Project Team: Lorenzo Catena, Chiara Cucina, Onorato di Manno, Andrea Tanci
Structural engineering: Proges Engineering – Ing. Andrea Imbrenda
General Contractor: Sì Produzioni
Metalworking: Officina Paolo Cocchi
Paving: Edil Nuova S.A.S.
Lighting: Erco
Client: Bologna Jewish Community
Model: Francisco Muñoz Albarracín
Video: Visual Lab + Sì Produzioni
Year: 2016
Photographs: Simone Bossi
Photo model: Ugo Salerno, Courtesy of SET Architects

Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Simone Bossi
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Site
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Site Plan
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Scheme Structure
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Ugo Salerno
Bologna Shoah Memorial
Photo © Ugo Salerno

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