A memorial is a structure erected to commemorate people or events. Since the architectural objects are of long-lasting nature, there’s a need for presenting "honored memories". These kinds of objects, -since their main function is to express and to commemorate- most often have a striking appearance. One of the most elegant examples of such architectural objects is placed on the corner between Via dei Carracci and the bridge of Via Matteotti in Bologna; the Bologna Shoah Memorial.
This memorial was built in 2016 and designed by a team of architects; SET Architects (Lorenzo Catena, Chiara Cucina, Onorato di Manno, Andrea Tanci). Shoah, in modern Hebrew, means literally "catastrophe", and the memorial stands for the Holocaust (the mass murder of Jews under the German Nazi regime during 1941–1945).
Treating one of the saddest historical points in the general civilization, the architectural team is presenting in a very elegant manner this tragedy. The object is recognized as a landmark of great emotional power. The smart position of the monument attracts people, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy of the Holocaust.
The object consists of two symmetrical parallel-piped blocks of 10 x 10 m each. Their position is creating a path, which begins with a width of 1.60 m, narrowing to just 80 cm. This generates a sudden feeling of oppression. The interior of this object (the space between these two bricks), is designed with empty shelf-like boxes on both sides with dimensions of 1.80 x 1.25 m – representing the actual size of the dormitories cells in the concentration camps. The paving between the two bricks is made of small stones and symbolizes the rail lines inside the Birkenau camp, upon the arrival of Jews at Auschwitz.
The empty echoes of footsteps across the stones combined with the narrow down passage, trigger an intense sense of grief. During the daytime, when the square is lightened by the sun, the passage gets covered in darkness and contemplative light, allowing the visitor to calmly reflect. The material that is chosen for the two bricks also holds a story and symbolism behind. They are made of cor-ten steel. This is a material that will naturally rust after being exposed to open-air conditions. In this way, this is a material that can "absorb a memory".
This public space memorial object is an amazing example of how architecture can narrate the past by utilizing the present’s sensibility.
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