What is the story that your city's public space tells? Who are the people honored in monuments scattered throughout it? Issues like these have led to a series of insurgencies in recent years in several cities. The notions of memory and representation have expanded the reflection on which narrative we build in our spaces, a fact that has triggered an urban question for the future: after all, what do we want to remember (or forget) through the symbols that we rise (or destroy) in cities?
Monuments and Memorials: The Latest Architecture and News
While walking through the city, have you ever felt afraid to be yourself? As strange as the question may sound to some, it is a reality for most LGBTQIA+ people, who at some point have been victims of hostility when they were noticed performing outside the "heteronormative standards" of public spaces. If violence comes from social layers that go beyond the designed space, this does not exempt the importance of thinking about projects that can integrate the physical sphere and insert a symbolic or representational factor to include and educate its citizens. This is the case of Homomonument, which for more than three decades, has become a platform for queer celebration and protest in the heart of Amsterdam.
Canada’s Department of National Heritage, along with the Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien, as well as the LGBT Purge Fund have unveiled “Thunderhead” as the winning concept of Ottowa's LGBTQ2+ National Monument competition. The winning design symbolizes a thunderhead cloud, which embodies the "strength, activism and hope of LGBTQ2+ communities, and will be a lasting testimony to the courage and humanity of those who were harmed by the LGBT Purge, homophobic, and transphobic laws and norms".
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”.
Over two decades in the making, Frank Gehry's design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. will finally open to the public this Friday. A tribute to the 34th President of the United States, the memorial was commissioned by Congress in 1999 to honor the legacy of the World War II Supreme Allied Commander. Eisenhower is well known for leading the invasion of Normandy, a turning point in the war, and for serving two terms as President of United States.
With a complex debate underway about monuments and the way we engage history, we should start thinking about a COVID-19 Memorial. Yes, I know we are in the middle (or is it still the start?) of this pandemic, but the intensity of the moment might actually help us envision what such a memorial could be. Instead of waiting for a time when we have more distance from our current catastrophe, we should capture the passions coursing through society right now.
Architecture firm Gómez Platero has designed a new memorial to honor those affected by COVID-19. Sited in Uruguay, the monument is made to be an expression of hope in an uncertain time. As the first large-scale monument to the worldwide victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is called the "World Memorial to the Pandemic." It aims to be a space for mourning and reflection that's environmentally conscious and emotionally impactful.
This article is part of "Eastern Bloc Architecture: 50 Buildings that Defined an Era", a collaborative series by The Calvert Journal and ArchDaily highlighting iconic architecture that had shaped the Eastern world. Every week both publications will be releasing a listing rounding up five Eastern Bloc projects of certain typology. Read on for your weekly dose: Monumental Museums and Memorials.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Monuments, as Alois Riegl pointed out a century ago, are aids to memory. “In memoriam,” the carvings cry out. Though they are almost always tainted with political ideologies and social values, they can stand on their own as works of art, absorbing meanings over millennia. Many that we continue to treasure were once associated with events and practices antithetical to modern mores and taboos: Greek temples were founded on the altars of animal—and, earlier, human—sacrifice; the pyramids were made by slaves; market crosses may have served as flogging posts. There really are no innocent human artifacts dedicated to remembering human acts, as fact or fiction.
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Letter From Mexico City: An Insidious Memorial to a Still-Unfolding Tragedy."
You wouldn’t think it looking at Mexico City today—a densely populated metropolis, where empty space is hard to come by—but decades earlier, following a devastating earthquake on September 19, 1985, more than 400 buildings collapsed, leaving a collection of open wounds spread over the cityscape.
Exactly thirty-two years later, the anniversary of that disaster was ominously commemorated with an emergency evacuation drill. Then, in one of those odd occurrences in which reality proves to be stranger than fiction, a sudden jolt scarcely two hours after the drill led to what would be yet another of the deadliest earthquakes in the city’s history. Buildings once again collapsed, leaving a rising-by-the-hour death toll that eventually reached 361, as well as swarms of bewildered citizens wandering the streets, frantically attempting to reach their loved ones through the weakened cell phone reception. “We’d just evacuated for the drill,” people said, like a collective mantra. “How could this happen again?”
The "National Memorial for Peace and Justice," designed in collaboration with MASS Design Group, has opened in Montogomery Alabama. Commissioned by the Equal Justice Initiative, the scheme is America’s first memorial dedicated to “the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”
The memorial's April 23rd opening coincided with the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative's Legacy Museum, addressing similar injustices.
This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Why the Best Response to the Grenfell Tower Fire Isn’t a Memorial."
Memorials play an integral role in marking significant people, moments, or events. In recent years, they have become glorifications of tragedy by attempting to express unimaginable horrors in poetic and beautiful ways. The issue with the many forms that memorials take is that they seek to placate the immediate reaction and hurt of an event, an understandable societal reaction, but one that often feels rote and hallow.
But what if memorials sought to preserve the memory of those affected by offering a solution that addressed how the tragedy occurred? The international response to tragedy has, by default, become to install a statue, build a wall, create a healing water feature, erect an aspirational sculptural object, or simply rename a park. None of these responses are inherently bad—they’re usually well-meaning and on occasion quite moving—but there is another approach available to us: changing the public perception of memorials by looking at them through the lens of solutions, encouraging people to think of them as a testament or proper response to tragedy, not just a plaque that over time goes unnoticed. While this approach might be difficult in some instances, the case of Grenfell Tower fire in London presents a rather obvious solution.
The Arch for Arch, an intertwined wooden archway honoring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has debuted in downtown Cape Town, South Africa on a site near Parliament where Tutu held many of his anti-Apartheid protests.
Designed by Snøhetta and Johannesburg-based Local Studio, in collaboration with Design Indaba and Hatch engineers, the Arch for Arch consists of 14 woven strands of Larch wood, representing the 14 chapters of South Africa’s constitution. Reaching nearly 30 feet tall (9 meters), the structure invite visitors to pass through and be reminded of the location’s prominent role in their country’s history on their way to the Company’s Garden, one of the most popular public spaces in the city since its establishment in 1652.
The Frank Gehry-designed Eisenhower Memorial has finally broken ground in Washington DC following a tumultuous years-long approval process.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held yesterday at the National Mall site, located at the intersection of Maryland and Independence Avenues and across from the National Air and Space Museum.
The Studio Libeskind-designed Canadian National Holocaust Monument has opened to the public in Ottawa, honoring “the millions of innocent men, women and children who were murdered under the Nazi regime and recognize those survivors who were able to eventually make Canada their home.”
Located on a .79 acre site across from the Canadian War museum, the cast-in-place concrete monument evokes the form of the 6-pointed star of David, deconstructed to create an “experiential environment” laced with symbolism throughout.