SET architects resurrects history with the bologna shoah memorial SET architects resurrects history with the bologna shoah memorial
feb 29, 2016

SET architects resurrects history with the bologna shoah memorial

SET architects resurrects history with the bologna shoah memorial
image © simone bossi
all images courtesy of mint list




rome-based SET architects has recently completed the the construction of the shoah memorial in bologna- the result of a successful competition entry that was erected in less than two months. the project is situated in the city square framed by via dé carracci and ponte matteotti, greeting the influx of visitors to the city from the new train station located just across the way. opening on january 27th of this year to coincide with international holocaust remembrance day. the towering project suggests a powerful gesture whose form and design reflect the anguish of lives past.  


bologna shoah memorial video by visual lab bologna




two massive asymmetrical steel boxes stand within a break in the existing walls of the plaza, forming between them a pathway whose proportions constrict from end to the other – from 1.6 meters to 80 cm – to create the sensation of discomfort and angst.  the structures themselves are comprised of 40 tons of corten steel sheets that form a 10m by 10m interlocking matrix forming individual empty cubes facing the interior of the project that represent the dormitory cells in the concentration camps. the shear height of the structures and their proximity to the observer are accentuated by the daunting rows and columns of seemingly endless empty boxes. the material choice came also from its ability to mark the passage of time as corten will naturally rust when exposed to oxygen, so will the memorial be marked by this passage documenting on its surfaces the events of its past.

view from the street
image © simone bossi




the pathway between the steel towers is also of a markedly different material than the surrounding plaza. black basalt stone flakes are embedded into the ground representing the roadway between auschwitz and auschwitz II, named the ‘judenrampe.’  walking through the memorial the visitor is engulfed as much in the resurrection of historical pathos as they are experiencing the very physical aspects of that reality- a memorial that evokes the proportions and feel of the holocaust.

the dark steel walls contrast the existing white masonry walls of the plaza
image © simone bossi

the memorial is located opposite a newly built train station
image © simone bossi

entering the plaza from the street level accentuates the effect of the steel towers
image © simone bossi

the internal path constricts from 1.6 meters to 80 centimeters at the other end
image © simone bossi

image © simone bossi

back facade exposed the dimensions of each cell
image © simone bossi

image © simone bossi

the steel will naturally rust over time marking its history in layers
image © simone bossi

the internal grid of steel offers a powerful experience for the user who is dwarfed in between the solid walls
image © simone bossi

nighttime lighting accentuates the internal grids
image © simone bossi

image © simone bossi

image © simone bossi







project info:



name: bologna shoah memorial
client: comunità ebraica di bologna
type: memorial
site: via giacomo matteotti / via dè carracci, bologna, italy
year: 2016
project: SET architects
project team: lorenzo catena, chiara cucina, onorato di manno, andrea tanci
structural engineering: proges engineering – ing. andrea imbrenda
general contractor: sì produzioni
metalworking: officina paolo cocchi
paving: edil nuova s.a.s.
lighting: erco
photographs bologna shoah memorial: © simone bossi
photographs model: © ugo salerno
model: francisco muñoz albarracín
video: © visual lab + sì produzioni

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