Shoah Memorial

The competition called for a Shoah Memorial within a pre-existent setting, a square with two large diagonal walls located near the high-speed train station, at the crossing of Via de’ Carracci e Via Matteotti in Bologna, Italy.

The term Shoah, calamity or catastrophe in Hebrew, defines the massive genocide that took place in Europe during the 1930s and until the end of Second World War. A memorial needs to acknowledge the horrible acts of oppression and murder and at the same time honor and remember the people who suffered and died. It needs to deliver a universal message of peace to the collective consciousness, offer a space for reflection and contemplation not just to the Jewish community but to all humankind.

The memorial is a subtle setting of numerous skewed tetrahedra that form a Magen David (Shield or Star of David) made of thorns, a symbol of Jewish identity which became a sign of persecution. The array of tetrahedra forms six acute points arranged radially which from above resemble also a flower, a symbol of rebirth and hope. Thus the monument embodies the dichotomy of meaning of a community symbol which became a stigma through which the oppressor perpetrated the worst crimes: a symbol of identity, death, memory and life.

The tetrahedra recall a forest of thorns with six paths that allow the visitors to enter the monument and reach its center, a place of contemplation. The monument offers a physical experience on a human scale, placing people at the center of it. It commemorates the sense of strength and identity of the Jewish community and remembers the suffering caused to by the thorns of history.

The memorial is discreet since the Shoah is a history of disappearance, absence and silence. The skewed tetrahedra are monolithic elements made in polished cement which provides a slightly mirroring surface to reflect the distorted image of the beholder thus making the viewer part, with his or her presence, of the memorial itself.

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