Studio Libeskind completes angular Holocaust memorial in Amsterdam

Walls of Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names

A labyrinth of brick walls and angular mirrors define the Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names, which Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind‘s studio has completed in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Located on Weesperstraat street close to the Jewish Cultural Quarter, the memorial was realised by Studio Libeskind with local studio Rijnboutt to commemorate 102,000 Dutch victims of the Holocaust.

Brick Holocaust memorial by Studio Libeskind
Studio Libeskind has completed the Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names

The victims, who were largely Jews, Sinti and Roma people, were killed by the Nazis during the second world war and have no known graves.

To honour each of these victims individually, the walls of the memorial are constructed from 102,000 bricks that are inscribed with the names of the victims – giving the project its title.

Alongside these bricks, 1,000 extra bricks were left blank to memorialise those who remain unknown.

Bricks inscribed with names of Dutch Holocaust victims
The bricks are inscribed with the names of Dutch Holocaust victims

The bricks are arranged in a series of two-metre-high walls across the site, which are crowned by four mirrored stainless steel volumes.

Studio Libeskind’s arrangement of the brick walls gives rise to a dynamic labyrinth of passages across the site for visitors to explore.

The Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names
A labyrinth of brick walls make up the memorial

The mirrored volumes were designed by Studio Libeskind to emulate four Hebrew letters, which form a word that translates as “in memory of” when viewed together from above.

They are also designed to appear as though they are floating above the walls, which the studio said represents “an interruption in the history and culture of the Dutch people”.

The combination of brick and stainless steel at the memorial is also symbolic.

“Brick, a ubiquitous building material in the Netherlands and cities of Western Europe, paired with the highly reflective and geometric forms of the steel letters reference the connection between Amsterdam’s past and present,” Studio Libeskind said.

A mirrored sculpture at the Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names
The walls are crowned by mirrored volumes

Woven around the brick walls are crushed stones, trees and monolithic seating that complement the geometric angles of the memorial, while the border of the site is lined with hedges and bronze-coloured panels.

The Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names was commissioned by the Nederlands Auschwitz Comité and officially inaugurated on 19 September 2021.

Brick and mirrored memorial by Studio Libeskind
The mirrors appear to hover above the walls

Studio Libeskind was founded by Libeskind with his partner Nina Libeskind in Berlin in 1989. Elsewhere, the studio has designed Holocaust memorials in the United States and Canada.

It has also designed several Jewish museums, including the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Danish Jewish Museum in Copenhagen and San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum. It is currently also designing one in Lisbon.

Entrance to Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names
Bronze-coloured walls line the edges

Dezeen recently spoke to Libeskind as part of its 9/11 anniversary series to explain his experience of working on the Ground Zero masterplan.

The architect said that “everything changed in architecture” after the tragedy and that it “gave people a sense that architecture is important”.

The photography is by Kees Hummel.

Project credits:

Architect: Studio Libeskind
Team: Daniel Libeskind, Stefan Blach, Johan van Lierop and Alex Tahinos
Architect of record: Rijnboutt
General contractor: Koninklijke Woudenberg
Project management: Paul Rohlfs
Construction management: Aumento bv
Construction: IMd Raadgevend Ingenieurs
Brick manufacturer: Rodruza
Masonry: Metselwerk Adviesbureau Vekemans
Stainless steel: AIP partners BV, ABT
Engravings: Reijnders Engraving and Laser Engineering B.V.
Installations: Swart installatietechniek

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