Studio Libeskind has teamed up with Lord Cultural Resources, photographer Edward Burtynsky, landscape architect Claude Cormier, and Holocaust scholar Doris Bergen, to realize Canada’s first national monument dedicated to the Holocaust in Ottawa. The monument honors those who were murdered under the Nazi regime and recognizes the survivors who were able to make Canada their home.
The landmark structure is an experience that combines architecture, art, landscape, and scholarship in ways that create an-ever changing engagement with one of the darkest chapters of human history while conveying a powerful message of humanity’s enduring strength and survival.
“It is extremely meaningful to have been able to design and realize this monument with an incredible team,” said architect Daniel Libeskind. “This monument not only creates a very important public space for the remembrance of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, but it also serves as a constant reminder that today’s world is threatened by anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry. Canada has upheld the fundamental democratic values of people regardless of race, class or creed, and this national monument is the expression of those principles and of the future,” added Libeskind.
Located in close proximity to the Canadian War Museum, the monument has been conceived as ‘an experiential environment’ with triangular, concrete volumes configured to create the tips of a six-pointed star. The star remains the visual symbol of the Holocaust – a symbol that millions of Jews were forced to wear by the Nazi’s to identify them as Jews, exclude them from humanity and mark them for extermination. The triangular spaces are representative of the badges the Nazi’s and their collaborators used to label homosexuals, Roma-Sinti, Jehovah’s Witnesses and political and religious prisoners for murder.
The Monument is organized with two physical ground planes that are differentiated by meaning: the ascending plane that points to the future; and the descending plane that leads visitors to the interiors spaces that are dedicated to contemplation and memory. Six triangular concrete forms provide specific program areas within the Monument: the interpretation space that features the Canadian history of the Holocaust; three individual contemplation spaces; a large central gathering and orientation space; and the towering Sky Void that features the eternal Flame of Rememberance, a 14 meter-high form that encloses the visitor in a cathedral-like space and frames the sky from above.
Edward Burtynsky’s large scale, monochromatic photographic landscapes of current day Holocaust sites – death camps, killing fields and forests – are painted with exacting detail on the concrete walls of each of the triangular spaces. These evocative murals aim to transport the visitor and create another dimensionality to the interiors spaces of canted walls and labyrinth-like corridors.
The Stair of Hope rises from the central gathering space, cuts through a dramatically inclined wall and points at the upper plaza towards the Parliament Buildings; a gesture that recognizes and acknowledges the Canadian survivors who have contributed much to Canada and who continued to play an important role in exposing the dangers of state sponsored genocide.
Surrounding the monument, a rough landscape of various coniferous trees will emerge from the rocky pebbled ground. This landscape will evolve over time representative of how Canadian survivors and their children have contributed to Canada.
all images © Doublespace Photo