International Design Competition for Sites of Jewish History in Lviv

An open international design competition for sites of Jewish history in Lviv took place in August – December, 2010. The competition was announced by the Lviv City Council Executive Committee Resolution No. 1076 of August 6, 2010.

The initiative of holding the competition was born at the international conference on "Jewish History and Heritage in East Central Europe," organized by the Center for Urban History in October 2008. Students of Jewish history and heritage, museum employees from Ukraine, other countries of Europe, and the United States, discussed problems of preserving and revitalizing the material heritage of Jewish Lviv.

The competition’s chief objective was to draw attention to Lviv’s multiethnic past, and to the need to preserve its mutlicultural heritage, and raise the residents’ awareness as to the history of the Jewish community in Lviv by marking the sites connected with its presence in the city. The competition set itself two inerconnected objectives. The first one consisted in drawing attention to Lviv’s multiethnic past by rediscovering and showing the Jewish heritage of the city. The second one was to find the best architectural and landscape design solutions for sites included in the competition, and thus to improve the living conditions for Lviv residents and visitors.

The competition was jointly organized by the Lviv City Council, the Center for Urban History of East-Central Europe, and the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ).

Three city sites were selected for the competition. Each of the sites is connected to the rich life of the Jewish community in Lviv, from the Middle Ages, through the tragic extermination of the Jews during the Second World War:

"Synagogues Square" lies in the former Jewish quarter in dowtown Lviv. Until 1943 this area has been home to three buildings with a significant role in the religious and social life of the Jewish community: the Great City Synagogue, the Turei Zahav (or "Golden Rose") Synagogue, and the Beit haMidrash, House of Study.

"Besojlem Memorial Park" is part of the territory of the former Jewish cemetary by the maternity ward in Rappaporta Street. The cemetary, one of the oldest and most valuable in Europe, was destroyed by the Nazis in 1941. The territory is to hold the Besojlem Memorial Park.

"Yanivsky Concentration Camp Memorial Park" is part of the grounds of the former Yanivsky (Janowska) concentration camp, known as the "Valley of Death" (in Vynnytsia St.), where mass shootings of Jews took place. The concentration camp had been a transit point for the Jews sent on to the death camp at Bełżec. A memorial complex is to be built on this site.

All of the competition materials (program, requirements, backgrounds, maps, diagrams, photographs, historical materials), as well as all submitted projects can be viewed at http://www.city-adm.lviv.ua/archilviv

Public hearings, at which the project’s organizers informed the public of the competition and its concept, took place in March and June, 2010. Professionals, representatives of the Jewish community, and all interested parties were given the opportunity to express their thoughts on the design projects relating to the three sites, for which the competition was announced. These thoughts were taken into account in further elaborating the rules of the competition.

70 projects from 16 countries were submitted for consideration. An international jury met on December 20 – 22, 2010. The jury comprised international experts in the fields of architecture and Jewish historical legacy, as well as representatives of the Jewish community, and the city administration. Information on the members fo the international jury can be found here

Winning projects for all three sites were announced on December 22, 2010. First prize for a design project of the Synagogues Square was awarded to a group of architects from Germany: Franz Reschke, Paul Reschke, and Frederik Springer. First prize for the Besojlem Memorial Park was awarded to Ronit Lombrozo of Israel; first prize for the Janów Concentration Camp was given to a group of U. S. Architects – Ming-Yu Ho, Ceanatha La Grange, and Wei Huang.

Franz Reschke is a landscape architect. He uses an interdisciplinary design approach, and focuses on local research and analysis. He has been working on competitions since 2006, and among his prizewinning projects is the realized Visitors’ Centre Glauer Tal, at Trebbin in Germany. In 2011 he was the winner or runner up of 6 international competitions; he won second prizes for his project at the State Garden Show Lahr/Schwarzwald, and for his project for the Church Square Freyburg. In addition to this, he won first prizes for his project for the territory of the former airport in Berlin; for the Rudolphsplatz Marburg competition, and for the old city center in Bad Kissingen. He also holds first prize for the Europan international competition in Nynäshamn, Sweden. The proposal for Synagogue Square was designed in collaboration with the landscape architect, Frederik Springer, and the geographer, Paul Reschke.

Ronit Lombrozo established her office in Jerusalem in 1987, and has designed more than 40 projects across Israel. She is particularly attracted to sites with strong educational potential and pays particular attention to the conceptual and theoretical programmes of her designs. Her projects include museums and archaeological sites, and she has worked for the Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, and the Knesset in Jerusalem. The Besojlem Memorial Park is especially meaningful to her. Her mother, who lived in the Lviv region, survived the Holocaust, but all her mother‘s family was killed there. She has dedicated her work to her mother’s family.

After the results of the competition were announced, all the projects were exhibited at the Lviv Palace of Arts. The winning projects, and the honorable mentions were also exhibited at the Center for Urban History, as part of an exhibit, entitled "Historical Legacy and the City Space".

The competition and its results were discussed in an open discussion on the public space and the historical legacy of Lviv, held at the Center for Urban History on April 19, 2011. Representatives of the city authorities, architects, historians, and jury members of the competition were invited to participate. Competition jury members Oksana Boiko and Bohdan Cherkes spoke of the jury’s work and deliberations, an highlighted the importance of international competitions for Lviv.

A booklet was published as part of the project’s documentation. It can be downloaded here.

Another public hearing took place in October 2012, with the intention of introducing the first prize winner of the Synagogues Square subcompetition to the wider public. One of the project’s authors, German architect Franz Reschke, presented his design solutions for the site. The hearings were attended by public figures, local representatives, members of the Jewish community, historians, and architects who shared their impressions of the project, and expressed ideas for its improvement. The protocol of the public hearing can be viewed at the website of the Lviv City Council, or downloaded here.

For more details, please contact Iryna Matsevko, Academic Coordinator, Center for Urban History at (+380 32) 275 17 34 or i.matsevko@lvivcenter.org