The growing campaign against London's proposed Holocaust Memorial has a new supporter.
The UK branch of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), an official advisory body of the UNESCO, has expressed concern that the government-backed memorial would visually dominate the gardens and fundamentally compromise the Westminster World Heritage Site.
ICOMOS is UNESCO’s adviser on world heritage sites.
Designed by Adjaye Associates and Ron Arad Architects, the Holocaust Memorial proposal for Victoria Tower Gardens adjacent to the Houses of Parliament is facing controversy with several cultural and environmental bodies objecting to it.
The Victoria Tower Gardens is a grade II registered park located next to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, all collectively designated as a world heritage site.
The planning application submitted for the memorial and learning centre is being considered by Westminster Council.
The design includes 23 bronze fins, an entrance pavilion and an underground learning centre to help visitors better understand the Holocaust.
In a letter to the Council, ICOMOS said the memorial would interrupt views of the tower and palace, with ‘the gardens being dominated by the memorial, its bulky entrance pavilion, enclosed forecourt and hard landscaping, as well as the forecast one million visitors a year’.
Royal Parks, the charity that looks after Victoria Tower Gardens, has expressed the opinion that the site was not an ‘appropriate location’ for the project given the impact it will have on a public amenity space in an area of London with few green spaces.
The list of high-profile critics of the Holocaust Memorial project includes the Environment Agency, which is concerned about the impact of the memorial on the park’s flood defences, and Historic England’s archaeology specialists.
Local residents are also opposing the project with more than 10,000 people signing an online petition that urges the government to reconsider the project.
The Westminster Council has also received 697 objections, thanks to Save Victoria Gardens (SVTG), which is spearheading the campaign against the project.
Defending the project, British architect, Sir David Adjaye has argued that ‘disrupting the pleasure of being in a park is key to the thinking’.
Images: Holocaust Memorial (Source: Hayes Davidson)