Covin Matei Matei Studio
The site chosen for the proposed memorial encompasses all of the Jewish Ghetto in the Hongkou District of Shanghai.
This proposed memorial will co-exist in parallel with a planned and sensible development of the site. In fact, the larger the development, (i.e. tall buildings with hefty volumes), the more defined the Jewish memorial will be. The success of the memorial is tied closely with the success of the new development.
The memorial uses the tombstones as conceptual precedent. Just as the Hebrew names are carved out of the tombstones as void in marble, the same way, the volume of these existing buildings in the Jewish Ghetto will leave their outline as public space within the mass of future development on the site. Architecturally, it’s a subtractive process just as the letters carved out of the marble.
The scheme calls for all historical buildings to be preserved in different ways. Important buildings will be fully restored while others will be kept only as roofs. It is here that the tombstones will be protected by the very same roofs that once provided shelter. The rest of the buildings are to be preserved only as voids within the new development mass, thus visually contributing to the memory of the old Jewish Ghetto. These future development buildings on the site will have imprinted the volumes of the row houses that once stood there.
The “hollow out” volume of the Jewish Ghetto buildings will then become public space shared with the new development as memorial site. Within this space the tombstones will be displayed along a memory path, a passage that is woven through the site.
This passage will take the visitor on a journey that negotiates the dense fabric of building volumes.