Paneriai Holocaust Memorial

Award: Winner of the competition
Program: Memorial, landscape, information center
Team: Jautra Bernotaite, Ronaldas Pucka, Andrius Ropolas, Paulius Vaitiekunas
Type: Competition
Location: Paneriai, Vilnius, Lithuania
Client: Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum
Area: 18.9 ha
Year: 2014

Paneriai Memorial to Victims of Holocaust and All Victims of Nazism is the site of the massacre and graves in Lithuania, where Nazis executed nearly a hundred thousand people, mostly Jews, during 1941-1944. The majority of the remains of the victims were burned, others were buried in this area. According to the number of the victims, the Memorial of Paneriai is the largest site of the Holocaust in Lithuania and is well-known globally.

In an open international competition organized by Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum to design a new visitor center and to create a concept for experiencing the Paneriai Memorial site, our winning project proposed a strategy and design which allows maximum engagement with the existing condition of the preserved area.

Understanding complexity of the location we offered a flexible strategy which offered a possibility to change design, paths, allow inclusion of the newly found sites without compromising initial idea. This strategy simply maps out all existing and possibly undiscovered sites in the territory and creates a network of rigid straight paths. These path a free to change directions, because paths are the least important here – they only connect one site to another, they perform a simple almost mathematical function of connecting two dots. If dots were about to change – the line between them would change too.

Continuing the logic of the paths, the new visitor center is also a straight line built on the axis of the former prisoners road. The internal corridor extends this paths. Architecture is simple and timeless with a stainless steel cuts in the facade.