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International competition for new memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani and Sinti victims in Czech Republic has seven finalists

21.2.2020 17:30
The area of the former Protectorate-era Zigeunerlager at Lety u Písku is outlined in red compared to the current grounds of the now-defunct industrial pig farm (outlined in yellow). (PHOTO:  Museum of Romani Culture, Czech Republic)
The area of the former Protectorate-era Zigeunerlager at Lety u Písku is outlined in red compared to the current grounds of the now-defunct industrial pig farm (outlined in yellow). (PHOTO: Museum of Romani Culture, Czech Republic)

After two days of meeting, the jury in the architectural and landscaping competition for the new memorial to the Holocaust and its Romani victims in the Czech Republic has chosen seven designs out of the 41 submitted to proceed to the next round. The jury had a very difficult task, that of choosing the designs which most respected the subject of the memorial, the culture of Czech Roma and Sinti, and also contributed the best solution in terms of architecture and landscaping.

"The deliberations of the jury were very demanding. Many of the designs received were at a good level in terms of the architectural and landscape design. Jury members spent the first day coming to an agreement, after carefully studying all the proposals, on which principles of design best portrayed the subject of the memorial and worked appropriately with the countryside and location," said architect Josef Pleskot, the independent juror who chaired the proceedings.

The seven-member jury is comprised of two sections - those sitting on what is called the dependent section are the director of the Museum of Romani Culture, Jana Horváthová, a representative of the relatives of the former concentration camp prisoners, Čeněk Růžička, and a representative of the Czech Culture Ministry, Martin Martínek. The members of the independent section are experts from different professions.

Independent jurors include the Slovak fine artist of Romani origin Emílie Rigová, the landscape designer Vladimír Sitta, and the curator of the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Rostislav Koryčánek. Independent experts also aided in choosing the best designs, above all Jan Hauer, Antonín Lagryn and alternate dependent juror Rudolf Merka, who all represented Romani and Sinti relatives of former concentration camp prisoners; alternate dependent juror Anna Míšková, an historian at the Museum of Romani Culture; architects Regina Loukotová and Igor Marko, alternate independent jurors; the head of the archaeological survey at the former concentration camp at Lety, Pavel Vařeka, as an expert; and Romani Studies scholar Helena Sadílková, as an expert.

"The designs were submitted and assessed anonymously. Currently we are separately informing each of the designers of the seven proposals chosen that they have made it to the second round. Along with this information, the competing teams chosen will also receive recommendations from the jury on how to complete their designs. During the second round the modified designs will be submitted and assessed anonymously again. The name of the winner of the competition will be known after the jury meets to review the second-round submissions, which will not be until May," said jury secretary Karolína Koupalová of ONplan, which is organizing the competition.

"The jury assessed each design and wrote recommendations to the seven competitors advancing to the second round on how to further elaborate their proposals. Those competing are solving the problem of a complex territory that includes an area commemorating the location of the former Zigeunerlager that was established there during the Second World War, the mass grave of the camp victims, the connection between those two places, and how to incorporate the entire memorial into the surrounding countryside. Now we are full of anticipation as to how the competitors will deal with the jury recommendations," said the director of the Museum of Romani Culture.

The new memorial and exhibition is meant to honor the memory of the Romani and Sinti victims of the Holocaust, and must educate, inform and inspire discussion not just of the past, but also of the current social situation, as well as discussing the subjects of discrimination against minorities and human rights. Detailed information about the competition and its background materials are available on the competition website

press release of the Museum of Romani Culture, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Lety u Písku, memorial, Muzeum, Soutěž



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