Adjaye Associates has recently designed a project in Niamey, Niger to honor all those that lost their lives in the fight against terrorism on the country’s southern and western borders. The Martyrs Memorial is in fact “tangible documentation of the continuous fight against extremist entities and the soldiers who have fallen in the process”.
Conceiving the Architecture, Landscape, and Interiors, Adjaye Associates imagined a 4000 m² tribute in the capital of Niger, including a memorial, new urban plaza, and multi-use civic gathering space. Located within the heart of the city, on a raised triangular plot, the design of the project “leverages its site to create a gently inclined plane framing the monument against the sky to create an experience that removes one from every day of the city”.
In collaboration with Steensen Varming for Sustainability & Lighting Design, the Martyrs Memorial generates “a labyrinth of abstraction”, through a rhythmic interplay of light, shadow, and geometries. In addition, the effect of the underground maze is amplified by a 20-meter high forest of pillars that blends with the shading canopy of trees on both sides of the project. The building transforms into “a sacred space that honors the dead and acts in service to the living”.
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According to Adjaye Associates, “each pillar symbolizes the individuals lost, extending towards the Niamey sky whilst grounded and situated in its urban context. At night, beams of light projecting from the pillars become part of the urban skyline, acting as both a beacon of remembrance and a visual guide toward the civic heart of Niamey”.
The Martyrs Memorial brings the sacred and the civic together in a way that engages both the citizen and the city. […] Through an interplay of absences and voids, the Martyrs Memorial becomes a sacred space—an in-between moment for meaningful reflection on the past and signaling for a peaceful future. -- Adjaye Associates
Integrated within the local Sahelian climate, the project puts in place a flexible, multi-use ground-level civic space providing a respite from the Niger heat, where both religious and city-organized events take place. On another hand, the pillars of the labyrinth act as thermal chimneys that mitigate heat buildup, and provide air to the main space. “Comprised of robust materials that both contribute to the sensory effect, as well as practically stand the test of time”, the structure requires minimum maintenance, with concrete as the primary material. Finally, geometric perforations on the façade curate light inside of the dark spaces.