ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture has won a nation-wide competition to design Canada’s national memorial to the victims of communism in Ottawa. Select from six finalists, ABSTRAKT’s provocative design superimposes 100 million singular pixel-like memory squares, each representing the fingertip of the lives lost, on a folded triangular concrete plane.
“As the most prolific communist murderer Joseph Stalin famously said: 'One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic’… This 'statistic' takes main stage in our design by realizing its sheer enormity, thus raising awareness that every human life is unique and precious,” stated ABSTRAKT.
From the architect: If we were to dedicate one-square-centimeter (digit or finger – ancient measurement of length) of memory to each life lost because of communism then one-square-meter would memorialize 10,000 lost lives. A cemetery laid out on the 100mx100m square would symbolize the 100 million lost lives and would help one to visualize and comprehend these communist crimes.
The emergent folded triangular plane would contain one-meter-wide contemplative paths enabling a visitor direct contact with the 100 million singular pixel-like memory squares covering exterior face of folds. Each represents an individual lost life. To make the memory squares more tactile they have been designed in the form of a three-dimensional truncated pyramid with the square the size of a small human fingertip on top.
While concrete folds invoke the past, the central plaza is very much entrenched in the present. It constitutes the axis of time, the space for gatherings during memorial events and anniversaries as well as for communities commemorating their suffering under communism or protesting the ongoing suffering of those still living under communist rule.
The focal point of the plaza is a lone, life-size memory square with the concrete cast of the unknown victim lying face down. The unknown victim establishes a direct visual connection with the 100 million memory squares covering the folded document of 'many' behind it…In addition, 1000 names of victims of communism who found refuge on Canadian soil will be located also at the bottom of these stairs on a vertical wall facing the main plaza.
From Wellington Street walking west along the Confederation Boulevard, the memorial will be perceived as a solemnly rising modern concrete sculpture, nine-meters-high at the highest point.
The winning design was made possible through a collaborative effort between architect Voytek Gorczynski (OAA Toronto, Canada), artist Janusz Kapusta, PhD (New York, USA), and architect Andrzej Pawlik (Warsaw, Poland).