Memorial of the Shoah - Milan Central Railway Station
Medaglia d'Oro all'Architettura Italiana 2015
Menzione d'onore - Interni
The Memorial of the Shoah – a place for memory and narration- together with the Memory Laboratory – a place devoted to process the informations- reveal a hidden railway station through a system of spaces of dialogue and research.
The itinerary communicates the visitor the presence of void and absence, the experience of a loss made visibile as long as he goes through the hall of records, listening to the survivors’ stories, following visual projections, getting closed to the open cars on the “Destination Unknown” track and the “Wall of Names”.
Not museum finds, but silent stories crossing history’s spaces, surrounded –today just like then- by the everyday life of the Central Station and the running of trains. But if at that time indifference took along the goods trains, today the Memorial offers a new glance on the facts of those days.
The “Place for Reflection” -with its dimension at the same time universal and individual- is a counterpoint, a break , a space without images and sounds. This place anticipates the “Memory Laboratory”, where the visitor can find informations about deportations, a specialized library, temporary exhibits, debates, lectures and projections.
The project promoted by Fondazione Memoriale della Shoah di Milano ONLUS (no-profit organization) involves Milan Central Station, whence the prisoners -most of them were Italian jews- were deported to death camps between 1943 and 1945.
This space was a wide and unused sorting depot till 2007, located underneath the railway station and directly communicating with the street.
The depot’s peculiarity is its complete invisibility from the outside and because of this particular condition it was chosen to deport the prisoners: the trucks from San Vittore jail carried people inside the area, where they were packed inside goods trucks. The wagons where finally lifted on the railway level and then sent to death camps, mainly Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen.
The Memorial will be a public space open to dialogue, debate and confrontation between different cultures, a vocation sprung from a place devoted to memory, with the objective to make visibile what was kept hidden for years.
It won’t be a museum, but a laboratory put into present and a reference for the entire civic community, in order to build a collective memory and to give people conscience to remember, tell, think.
The architectural integrity of this space, unique within Europe, suggests a project based on the conservation of its peculiarities and the setting of a permanent exhibit about Shoah -Memorial- and a system of new spaces.
This is a Memorial, not a Museum: the place itself is the object to display. The exhibit makes usable and visibile this scenery of dramatic historical events allowing visitors to cross it, experiencing a visit on different levels of involvement.
The project is based on the need to preserve the space of Memory and to keep constantly clear its dimension and peculiarity. All the architectural interventions are kept independent from the existing structures, keeping a respectful distance from them.
This project reveals itself similar to an archaeological excavation in space and time, establishing a dialectic relation with the historical building and recovering it to shape a critical, civil conscience.
The visit path through the Memorial crosses the original sequence of ambiences, now transformed in spaces of Memory. These spaces allow the visitor to get to know the main phases of italian jews’ Shoah, experiencing an emotional itinerary able to transform him from a passive spectator into a proper witness.
An original train has been placed on one of the two tracks within the “Deportation Area” and the “Wall of Names” will be realized on the other. On the platform 20 plates quote the dates and the destinations of the trains directed to the death, concentration and transit camps.
This part of the visit path ends in the “Place for Reflection”.
The Memory Laboratory is based on a system of spaces organized around a three-storey high library provided with 40,000 books and collecting the cultural patrimony around Shoah:
_ the network of Memorials, a multimedia connection of Memorials and Shoah Museums all over the world
_ a 200 seats auditorium
_ an area for temporary exhibits
_ a bookshop
_ the Foundation offices
The Memory Laboratory will be provided with an exclusive access in order to make it visibile and usable independently from the Memorial.
The construction yard started in 2009.
Credits of the project
Architects and artistic directors: Morpurgo de Curtis ArchitettiAssociati - Guido Morpurgo, Annalisa de Curtis
Collaborators to the construction design: Olga Chiaramonte, Matteo Quaglia, Valeria Radice
Scientific advisor for conservation: Gian Paolo Treccani
Conservation: Paolo Gasparoli with Maria Cannatelli
Structural engineers: Lussignoli Associati: Luciano Lussignoli, Flavio Buonelane, Claudio Favalli, Pierluigi Maranesi, Francesco Mazzeo, Andrea Moreschi
Plants: Giovanni Ziletti, with Lorenzo Inizio, Nicola Reccagni, Alessandro Temponi
Lighting: Ferrara Palladino e Associati
Acoustics: Cesare Trebeschi
Work Supervision: ACE - Livio and Antonio Acerbo, Valerio Arienti, Roberta Colombo, Manuela Maiorano, Rocco Nino Sallusti, Gabriele Salvatoni
Project management (first stage): Europa Risorse - Antonio Napoleone with Mauro Bevilacqua, Alessandra Desiderio
Multimedia: Kooa - Federico Thieme
Client: Fondazione Memoriale della Shoah di Milano Onlus
The project won a Special Mention for the category Interiors at the fifth Edition of the Italian Architecture Gold Medal awarded by the Triennale di Milano, MiBACT the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and MADE Expo.
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