BOLOGNA SHOAH MEMORIAL COMPETITION (2015)
The international competition program set the place for the Bologna Shoah Memorial in a square at the crossroads between Via Carracci and the bridge of Via Matteotti. This square, a fragment of an unfinished railway station, marked by two technical chimneys, is situated in a heavily trafficked area, where the oldest part of Bologna meets the urban expansion of the early 1900s.
The project of the Bologna Shoah Memorial consists of three operations that transform the existing disconnected elements in a very simple and economical way, though changing radically the architecture and meaning of the place:
1.Two white walls are raised on the South and West sides of the square, while the two existing stone chimneys are joined to form, on the one hand, an inaccessible space and, on the other hand, a stone wall, facing the city.
2.On this new stone wall, there are two holes: one between 1.50m and 1.70m and another between 1.00m and 1.20m above the floor (the average eye level of a standing adult and a standing child, respectively). An iron grid with letters is installed in each hole
3.In the middle of the floor of the resulting closed triangular shaped space bordered by the walls, painted in white, rests a sculpture made of black iron, representing a pair of shoes in an unstable equilibrium position, life-size.
In the open and public part of the square, the existing form of the floor and its coating in granite plates are preserved. Passersby who daily cross this place are faced with the presence of a high and thick wall, coated with the urban and familiar limestone of Bologna, limiting an inaccessible space. Those who wish to may go up the ramps or the existing stairs to approach the wall and look through the holes, to find the little pair of shoes, faraway.
The memorial is an architectural device that links the city of Bologna with the material presence of an urban wall, while opposing the smallness and tense position of an unreachable pair of shoes to the largeness of an empty space, only perceived through a grid made of written, direct and unequivocal Shoah data.
On snowy winter days the shoes will disappear under the white snow, but no one will ever doubt that they are there.
Architecture: José Neves and Rui Chafes
Collaborators: André Matos, Fernando Freire