The proposal of the Austrian architecture bureau, Querkraft Architekten, with the landscape architect Kieran Fraser Landscape Design, was selected unanimously as the winning project for the future Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv, Ukraine. Planned to be built on a site that has witnessed massive massacres, the center will be the first Holocaust Memorial in Eastern Europe.
With a design built on contrasts between dark and light, despair and hope, Querkraft Architekten and Kieran Fraser Landscape Design, imagined a project that revolved around “the visitor’s individual perception of the Holocaust”. In fact, the spatial experience allows the attendees to “physically feel the danger and hopelessness that surrounded the Holocaust victims gunned down at Babyn Yar”. The designers integrated a long ramp with gradually rising walls, “encasing” the visitor 20 meters below ground floors and leading him into the exhibition space. Actually, “the journey made by visitors mirrors the path taken by Babyn Yar victims towards the place of their death in the Babyn Yar ravine, whilst also reflecting society’s incessant plunge towards the darkness of violence”. In the end, the light at the end of the tunnel, the hope for a better future, is a luminous atrium, the heart of the center.
The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is a powerful and purposeful project. The significance and necessity to create a space reserved for understanding, educating and reflection will resonate amongst the generations to come, both in Ukraine and throughout the world. The competition entrants have demonstrated their ability and conviction to illustrate this truth and history. Their collective efforts symbolize the unity, respect and protection within which the human race depends on to exist in harmony. As we move forward in the world, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial will form part of an international narrative that will continue to pay tribute but also heighten the aspirations of the people in the world, encouraging us to be better. -- Sir David Adjaye, the member of the architectural jury of the competition, Principal of Adjaye Associates, architect, United Kingdom
The project includes exhibition spaces for core and visiting exhibits, an education and a research center, a space for public events, and premises for an archive and the museum collection documenting the Holocaust in Ukraine and beyond. The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial team will continue to develop with the winners the selected proposal through a series of workshops.
Launched back in December 2018, the competition attracted 165 applications from 36 countries, with considerable participation of renowned design firms like Eisenman Architects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Zaha Hadid Architects. The second and the third-place runners up were Dorte Mandrup A/S from Denmark with the American landscape architect Martha Schwartz and Merz Merz with the landscape architect TOPOTEK 1, both from Germany.