SET Architects installs towering steel Holocaust memorial in a Bologna square

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The space at the heart of this rusting steel memorial narrows to a width of just 80 centimetres, designed to make visitors empathise with the "feeling of oppression" experienced by Holocaust victims (+ slideshow).

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

Designed by Rome-based office SET Architects, the Bologna Shoah Memorial is located on a city square in Bologna, Italy, close to the newly installed high-speed train station.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

The structure is made up of two symmetrical steel blocks, each measuring 10 by 10 metres.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

The blocks sit adjacent to one another, with their positions converging to create a path that begins with a width of 160 centimetres, before drastically narrowing to just 80 centimetres.



The architects chose a type of Corten steel that is only slightly rusty at the moment, but will naturally continue to oxidise and become an orange colour over time when exposed to open air. They claim it will "display the vestiges of time" as it corrodes.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

On the inside of the memorial, a grid of horizontal and vertical metal sheets intersect to create rectangular openings, described by the architects as boxes.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

"The memorial is a recognisable landmark of great emotional power," said the architects. "It attracts passersby, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy of the Holocaust."

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

"The path generates an immediate feeling of oppression, and the empty boxes represent the cells of the dormitories in the concentration camps," they added.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

The path between the two blocks is paved in ballast – a surface of basalt stone chippings more commonly used to form the bed of a railway track or road.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

The aim was to represent the Judenrampe – the name given to the trek that prisoners made between the first and second concentration camps at Auschwitz.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

"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," added the architects.

During the day, the passage is dimly lit by daylight filtering in. But at night, lamps placed alongside the interior path illuminate the gridded volumes.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects

Architects have created a number of Holocaust memorials around the world. Perhaps the most famous is Peter Eisenman's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, but other examples include a glass-enclosed former home of an SS commander at Nazi concentration camp in the Netherlands, and Daniel Libeskind's National Holocaust Monument in Canada – which is currently underway.

Photography is by Simone Bossi.

Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Construction diagram – click for larger image
Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Location plan – click for larger image
Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Site plan – click for larger image
Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Long section one – click for larger image
Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Long section two – click for larger image
Shoah Memorial in Bologna by SET Architects
Cross section – click for larger image
  • Ale

    Something interesting even in Italy, finally!

  • Lest we forget.

    The design is a reminder of the bunks in Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. Perhaps it should have been a metal version of the exact bunks, rather than art.

    We must always remember, be vigilant, now, and in the future, that where states are not monitored from outside, that they are capable of such evil against dissension. It cost humanity dearly to learn this lesson. Never let us have to relearn it.

  • Doubtful Dodger

    Haunting.

  • Concerned Citizen

    ANOTHER holocaust memorial?

    • Brendan

      The feelings evoked are universal.

      • Concerned Citizen

        There are now so many memorials that they have become trivial.

        • Brendan

          Sorry that we have exceeded your arbitrary memorial limit.

          • Concerned Citizen

            Non sequitur.

  • cruiser
  • Brendan

    Thoughtful and moving.

  • Christopher Osborn

    Beautiful, stark and powerful. It says a lot with very few “words”. Only caveat is that they didn’t allow for the run-off of the Corten steel.

    They should research the consequences of Pittsburg’s Corten high-rise – a gutter detail with grating or gravel would have dealt with it. Very beautiful.

  • João Telha

    It’s a good thing European countries are not willing to support the coming of more refugees. Otherwise, we might run out of money to build memorials to dead innocents…

  • Wolfgang

    :) … :(

  • Wolfgang

    Very cool, but sad.