Roma and Sinti Holocaust Memorial

Lety u Písku, Bohemia

(Competition project, 2019)

Walking and Witnessing

The project is structured through a landscape walkway.  This connects the cemetery to the site of the prison camp in a route of remembrance that passes through the memorial building.

In the trees alongside the cemetery shelters a small concrete building.  This is a gathering house used for meetings and ceremonies beside the gravesites.  It also initially provides an exhibition space and accommodates employees.

Extending outwards from this, a fractured pathway threads through the trees before aligning with an opening in the concrete wall of the memorial building.  The shape of this opening corresponds to that of the gathering house, as if the concrete graveside building had been drawn out of the memorial to bear witness at the place of burial.  

As visitors walk toward the memorial, the pathway begins to cut downward into the earth.  Passing into the memorial, visitors find themselves sheltered by a roof formed from rust-red folded steel.  At the same time, the path turns to stone at their feet and on it they find the names of the victims carved.  Walking fuses with reading and remembering.  

To one side of the stone path of names is a room of reflection.  This is flooded with water, from which rippling sunlight is cast onto the steel roof.  Into this space projects a pier-like ramp.  When visitors’ views are at low-level they see the enclosing walls reiterated and reflected; but as they move up and look downward on the water the walls draw back and the open sky is released into the space.  

To the other side of the path a staircase leads upward to a part-covered outdoor exhibition and meeting space beside the prison camp site.

Threading through the memorial building, the route rises up out of the ground to form a walkway at a level just above the archaeological site of the camp.  Passing across this, the walkway returns to the Visitors’ Centre building.

The Visitors’ Centre is sheltered under an area of tilted landscape that is opened up at the edge of the prison camp site.  It becomes part of a system of landscape earthworks structured with materials obtained through the demolition of existing buildings on the site.  This is used to organise the vehicle parking system, and also to shelter the area from the adjacent road.