Find a better site for Holocaust memorial in London | Letters

Plans for a Holocaust memorial close to the Thames in central London are criticised by Patricia Hollis, Michael Daley and Quetta Kaye and Alice Roberts, while Michael Madden suggests a simpler form of memorial

Your profile of David Adjaye (Architect of Holocaust memorial enjoys his most feted moment yet, 28 October) only briefly mentioned his proposed design for a Holocaust memorial in the peaceful and beautiful little park of Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Houses of Parliament. Your illustration suggests that a substantial part of this tiny green park will be permanently lost; the children’s beautifully designed and much-used playground will be lost; fine mature plane trees will be lost; and the calm of its river setting devastated by perhaps three years of lorries while excavating the underground rooms; to say nothing of the apparently huge “ribs” that will tower over the park’s gentle landscape.

I welcome a Holocaust memorial, say at the Imperial War Museum. But surely this proposal is the wrong design in the wrong place. Please reconsider.
Patricia Hollis
Labour, House of Lords (and former English Heritage commissioner)

• A memorial is one thing. A theatre is another. A didactic immersive experience belongs, if anywhere, in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Why has a designer who believes monuments are not be looked at but “experienced” been selected to befoul an important civic green riverside space with an aggressively ugly, oversized structure which seems to mimic the reinforced concrete German U-boat pens of the second world war, in supposed honour of Holocaust victims and at a cost of £50m?
Michael Daley
Director of ArtWatch UK

• The new Holocaust memorial’s noble intentions are conveyed well by the fine words of your report (Holocaust memorial’s winning design will ‘reveal layers buried by history’, 25 October).

It’s approaching that time of year when we may well be reminded that remembering is not enough. So this memorial – wherever it finally settles – must indeed be “also about today”, “look forward” and “remind us of our incredible capacity for good”.

But how can a learning centre experience be conveyed, from a location in the heart of our democracy, far enough afield into our diverse communities to release that capacity? Quakers in Woodbridge, Suffolk, have had that challenge in mind in establishing in the town a memorial to peace. Its form is simple, a tree – but a tree reflecting a human ambition, so a tree with a mission, a tree for peace.

Its symbolic and practical purpose is to help promote, for all, a deeper understanding not only from the horrors of modern warfare and unbridled malice, but also about the insights and skills needed to anticipate and resolve conflicts without resort to violence. No doubt we shall make reference to the new memorial in using our tree.

Such a local memorial costs very little, could readily be established in any community, and invites a necessary collaboration in what David Adjaye dubs the “strife for a more equitable world”. Would it not be fitting for many communities to establish such a memorial in time for November 2018? Might a virtual forest of such trees become one of many ways to give the new museum and others a local presence?
Michael Madden
Woodbridge local Quaker meeting, Suffolk

• David Adjaye might be able to “convince and cajole clients into doing things they may never have thought they wanted to do”, in the words of his former partner, William Russell, quoted in your profile, but that should not include building an intrusive structure on the Victoria Tower Gardens.

I absolutely support the principle of creating a new memorial to the Holocaust, but not on this site, especially as the Imperial War Museum has already raised several million pounds in order to do just this nearby in their existing location in north Lambeth. here are depressingly few places left in this part of central London from which the Thames can be viewed with ease by pedestrians, and this particular stretch of grass beside the river creates one such valuable open space which would be obliterated by the proposed building.

There is much more at stake here than the feting of a celebrity architect, and I hope that Peter Bazalgette’s promise of consultation will take in a much wider scope than those of local residents to include those of us who live elsewhere in London but for whom the gardens in their present form are a source of great pleasure.
Quetta Kaye

• It is not just local residents who are concerned about losing Victoria Tower Gardens to make way for the UK’s Holocaust memorial. This is a London-wide issue affecting many people who live in, work in and visit the area. Threats to protected green spaces in London, including parks, stand at unprecedented levels. The loss of a central London park, the only green space in the local area, in constant use, is totally unacceptable.

No one wants to lose this park and there are clear alternative sites for this important memorial: at the Imperial War Museum or in or near Russell Square, which has historical links with the Jewish community. This historic and unique London park, and the memorials that already stand there, celebrating freedom from oppression, the abolition of slavery and the work of women’s rights campaigner Emmeline Pankhurst, must be saved for the benefit of all Londoners.
Alice Roberts
Green space campaigner, CPRE

• Recently, in gentle autumn afternoon sun, I managed to delay a few minutes in Victoria Tower Gardens. The Thames was at low tide and waves lapped against the embankment wall. Two shags perched on a yellow X-shaped buoy in the river, somewhere by the House of Lords, and one spread out its wings. A party of elderly ladies wearing special sashes posed for photos. A school party got their final instructions from teacher as they waited at parliament’s education entrance. I was reminded of 40 years ago: a family’s first visit to the capital, everyone tired and fractious after too many sights, and that blessed moment when finally we could sit down, anywhere on the grass, in this simple and lovely park.

All this is now to be destroyed: a brutalist conception of concrete fins will stagger out of the ground and confront the two most cherished buildings in the land. The trees that shade the sun and quiet the traffic, the plainness of the grass on which to sit and rest, the serenity of a view of parliament’s buildings – these all will be obliterated. Does memorialising the crime really demand this monumental assault on our sensibilities?
Michael Lyon

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