Thursday 24 Jun 2010

Personification and metaphor play key roles in Atlantic City Holocaust Memorial entry

A recent competition for the new Atlantic City Holocaust Memorial has attracted 715 entries, this submittal from Luca Andrisani Design and Interiors amongst them. Whilst the world will never truly forget the atrocities of World War Two, Luca Andrisani relates: "the Holocaust survivors are the only living proof of what really happened and we are losing them." In an effort to remind the public of man’s inhumanity to man, the competition set up by The Atlantic City Boardwalk Holocaust Memorial organisation (ACBHM, Inc.) challenged architects and designers to ‘find the appropriate metaphors and forms’ to raise awareness of the extreme genocide of the Nazi regime.

With an area of 2,400 sq ft, the site is located on the ocean side of the Atlantic City boardwalk where an existing pavilion currently stands. This existing structure will be demolished to make room for the winning proposal, once ACBHM, Inc. announces which design will claim first prize. Standing at 10 ft tall, the interior space is intimate and perfectly apt for quiet reflection, further supported by the relaxing external environment of a reflective seaside location.

Metaphors play a key role in Andrisani’s design concept. Whilst the collection of water on the roof of the building may add a sustainability factor to the design – ‘to turn the roof into a passive solar system that powers the LED strips along the walls and floor’ – arguably its most commanding factor is that it creates ‘the illusion that the whole Memorial [is] shedding tears’. The personification of such an emotionally powerful structure is a bold suggestion in itself, however Andrisani continues with this extended metaphor suggesting that the water marks left on the building ‘are all metaphors for the scars left by the Holocaust’. In an effort to make this dynamic statement less intimidating, the floor of the Memorial is designed to act as a continuation of the original Boardwalk base, in an attempt to invite passers-by to enter the structure.

Rather than traditional concrete, the exterior of the building is designed using Syndecrete to add an eco-friendly edge. Additionally, Syndecrete can be printed upon which is pivotal for the interior design of the memorial. To provide another visually stimulating element to his proposal, Andrisani suggested that the walls and ceiling of the interior space be covered with photographic images of Holocaust survivors, arranged into the shape of the Tree of Life to constitute ‘a symbol of Hope and Perseverance’. Calculations showed that the interior space demanded over 2,000 images for full coverage, however the renderings to the right include 300 images – many collected by Andrisani himself during interviews undertaken with Holocaust survivors during the design process.

Sian Disson
Editorial Assistant

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