smg arquitectos | Shoah Memorial | Italy | 2015 - smg arquitectos

Shoah Memorial | Italy | 2015

The Presence of Absence

In order to keep the memory of the Shoah alive, the suggested design has two steel circles, where these geometric form, represents in unquestionable way the infinity.

An inner circle and an outer circle touches one another with subtlety, not having the same center. These two elements represents a void inside another void that ultimately represents the amount of lives that where lost, materializing the emptiness.

Voids that are full of memory, where the absence is a form, a “palpable matter”.

No symbols were allowed to be integrated in the Memorial design, by not giving the possibility to discriminate people as: soviets, political opponents, gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, disabled and mentally ill, Jews that died in the extermination camps and Jews that never gone to the camps of death.

The voids integrates the lives that were taken. It integrates them all. Their presence are felt in their absence. Thru this oxymoron their lives and memory endures.

The steel circles are supported with five rounded walls that follow the curvature of the two above round structures, making the possibility to enter in the core of the Memorial by passing under the steel object.

The round object is mainly made of ´Weathering steel ‘or ´CORTEN´ steel, a rusty steel that embraces different tones during time goes by, and its steel component drools to the ground marking a territorial space of its own, leaving steel stains on the ground.

The object was designed to be incorporated between the two existed walls of the site, making it a little higher than these walls, leading the memorial to full attention of the viewers of a round object between these two vertical elements that flank it.

The inscriptions that are visible in Memorial are totally written in Hebraic.

The random position of the Hebraic characters that are visible in the outer steel circle, are the ones from the phrase: “SHOAH NEVER AGAIN” in Hebraic language: השואה- לעולם לא עוד

Those large characters have the proportion to be seen from a few distance from the limits of the square, and they are all randomly inserted, creating a lettering as holes in the outer circle. The randomly position of the characters transmits this idea of chaos, of something that was terrible inflicted.

These characters are projected in shaded contours in the inner circle, thru the mean of natural inclination on the sun light, where de inner circle is lower than the outer circle, having both the same height.

The point where the two steel circles touches each other, are in the North part making no possibility to the characters of the outer circle produce shade, and because of that, there are no Hebraic characters in this area of the outer circle.

In the core of the Memorial, a wide circle space is drawn to receive a very amount of people where the phrase: השואה – לעולם לא עוד is written till exhaustion, repeatedly to never forget, in the all surface of the inner circle. People have to look up because of the high position of the inner circle.

At night, the repeated phrase is illuminated in a white glowing light with the top of the inner circle also illuminated.


A special thanks to:

Fernando Manuel Afonso Teixeira Coelho