One could also say it is the “Architecture of Memory”. Evocation of curiosity and feelings are the first steps to experiencing a specific perspective. Memorial architecture deliberately taps into these memories and projects them into structures, tangible, very often – abstract but hold great underlying meaning. Memorial grounds don’t have a tailored program, unlike a manufactory or workplace housing functions.
Some memorials serve as an induction to the structural conditions of society, materialized semiotics highlighting a harrowing event in history that should not be forgotten. As an epitaph, it is evidence of the past, documented societal reflection, that the event should never be repeated. Other memorials perpetuate the “presence” of significant figures of society, preserving a memory of their sacrifices, influence, and story. Remembrance rests the jarred souls of the affected, in hopes to collectively heal society around the world.
Here are 10 memorials you should know about:
1. Dr Kallam Anji Reddy Memorial
The Presence of Absence by Sanjay Mohe, Hyderabad, India.
Promenading through the avenue of varying trees and suspended wind chimes that titillated his infectious laugh, one would venture through Dr. Reddy’s journey. The structures were paired with a landscape etching with a storyline to which each tree was dedicated to the paths Dr. Reddy had crossed. The Casuarina and Gulmohar trees harmonize the walk through the Samadhi–path of reflection/void. A linear waterbody stretches to a cut in the wall, the reflecting subject conjures a sense of his absence.
Upon closing, a centered void in the waterbody symbolizes the end of an era to the lives he enriched and brought light to. The water is channeled through a spout, the doctor’s offering hand was giving back to society he has rippled off, embodied in the form of overflowing water.
Growing up in a farming family in Tadepalli, the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, India, little Reddy was familiarized with medicine, herbal pills his father prepared and distributed for free. A foretelling cue to his philanthropy and innovation. Dr. Reddy turned away from the orthodox and took up his search to secure the less privileged with the right to good health through affordable medicine.
2. The Memorial of The Murdered Jews of Europe
Field of Otherness by Peter Eisenman in Berlin, Germany
3000 concrete slabs—stelae resembling a “tombstone-like” edifice raise heights incrementally across an undulating ground in Mitte, the heart of Berlin. The design faced political backlashes and community rebuttal, which had fraught with the construction of the memorial by 17 years. The architect was abstract with his approach, fostering a perspective of what it was like to be a Jew in Germany (otherness) during the austere Nazi era.
Eisenman wanted to evince the collected feeling of loss and being lost, an excerpt from a personal experience of a young woman who had been separated from her mother in Auschwitz by Mengele, a German Nazi officer/physician. The architect wanted to encapsulate the feeling of displacement, where movement deeper through the memorial would take one away to a space of otherness, making the viewers inhabit the labyrinth of concrete rows and columns of growing heights, tunneling them from the “real world”.
3. 9/11 Memorial and Museum
Reflecting Absence by Michael Arad on Ground Zero
Arad had channeled the grievances of the victims’ families and friends into fountains reflecting towards where the Twin-towers had once stood. His idea compelled absence to palpability by creating square voids paired with the notion of creating a natural public space with semblance to the tower’s operational days and its surroundings. This brought together the people of New York without grand ceremony, Arad’s response was to “cut off” the bustling noises of the roads and obstructing skyscrapers, without enclosing the area, making it more inviting to the public.
The sense of communal loss is made up of many individual losses. On the edge of the weir, each strand of water represents the individual dissipating into the void, weaving together many lives into one.
This also evokes the sense of separation between the living and the dead—”a threshold one cannot cross”. Nearly 3000 names who had lost their lives to the attack were inscribed into bronze panels overlooking the water. Each name had space around it forming a sense of uniqueness and individuality, some names were deliberately arranged to be next to each other. The architect preserved the collective journey of the community, the solidarity of those who have lost their loved ones in reflection of the event that had once taken place on the 11th of September 2001.
4. National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Michael Murphy’s Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, USA.
More than 4,000 racial terror lynching was being investigated in twelve of America’s Southern state between the Reconstruction and World War II. There was little recognition to bring the light of this perpetuating societal damage in the United States. The enforcement of fear through segregation and discrimination atop racial subordination. The MASS design team recognized a memorial space was needed to vouch for the truth, that there is an exigency of reflection and change. There are columns with names engraved of the lynched waiting in purgatory, to be placed in the counties where the lynching had occurred.
A vast number of suspended columns represented the victims of the lynching that have taken place in the public square. The construction of the memorial adapted Ubudehe, a building process the team learned about in Rwanda. Each column was filled with the soil from the very sites where the killings occurred. The act of collecting the soil by family members has brought about a sort of spiritual healing, an act of restorative justice.
As quoted by Anthony Ray Hilton to Will McBride, a victim to the lynching, “If (Will McBride) left one drop of sweat, one drop of blood, one hair follicle—I pray that I dug it up and now his whole body would be at peace.”
5. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The Reconstruction of Peace by Kenzo Tange in Hiroshima, Japan.
The monument is a symbolic element in the memorial park, capturing a view of the Genbaku Dome, the only standing structure in the area after the bombing. In the form of a hyperbolic parabola, the sculpture merges modern trends and ancient Haniwa tombs of the rulers of Japan, symbolizing those who fell victim to the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, 1945. Tange adapted 5 of Le Corbusier’s architectural principles with traditional Japanese. Where supporting the museum by piles, leaving free space underneath represented the human strength of overcoming disaster and ruin.
Concerning stores built on high stilts to protect crops from moisture and animals, an architectural approach of the Japanese. The museum’s modular façade aspects bear a functional semblance to Shoji screens. Apart from that, an extension of the monument seemed to have resembled a plan from which the bombing was dropped.
The museum exhibits the effects after the bombing event in chronological order. The effects of radiation, black rain, ensuing firestorm, and the survivors followed by artifacts and raw snapshots of the aftermath atop of installations illustrating the experiences of the Japanese. These were to present the prevailing effects of nuclear weapons and hold deterrents against them.
6. Salk Institute
A Monument to Scientific Discovery by Louis Khan in La Jolla, California.
The breakthrough of the polio vaccine took the light in 1953. Jonas Salk had put a halt to the furtherance of lives being lost to the disease. He approached Louis I. Khan intending to develop a biological research center to further diversify the study of sciences for humanity. The design response was modernist, salient to practicality, functionalism, and flexibility to the configuration of laboratory equipment. With essences of metaphysical and classical characteristics. Salk opted that the building can “guess tomorrow”.
The spaces were orchestrated with similitude to a monastery with three zones (the Meeting House, the Village, and laboratories) oriented towards the view of the ocean by the west. Compositionally of symmetrical open spaces parallel to each other, cut by a narrow stream of water channeled through the travertine courtyard to lead one’s eyes to the blue horizon, Pacific. Salk was intent on bridging science and art by the occupation of open spaces (laboratories) art. Endowments proceeded to preserve the pioneer’s stronghold of scientific discovery, an institute for the future.
7. The Tjentište Monument
Heavy Wings of Freedom by Miodrag Živković in Tjentiste, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The monument was erected during the socialist 70s as a remembrance of the fallen soldiers of the battle of Sutjeska after the suffering Partisans faced an innumerous death toll from breaking out of the enemy encirclement in the 5th Nazi offensive in 1943. The monumental ossuary was dedicated to the 3,301 fighters subjected to harsh, cold-blooded annihilation.
The structure is an abstraction of resolute and moral firmness when faced with a fascist ideology that could shake one off their values. It is the resisting of such forces in times of adversity that fortifies one’s truths and beliefs, despite what the opposing side tries to cement. The sacrifices for freedom soar 19m tall, with a dense base of white concrete fractal walls at a sharp angle, tapering off into the sky, seeming “afloat”. Its “broken” structure resembles the figures and faces of the fighters for an opening—a breakthrough for the partisans.
8. Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation
The Remembrance Network by Georges-Henri Pingusson in Paris, France.
Inaugurated in 1962, the monument dedicates the memory of the 200,000 deportees of Vichy France to the Nazi concentration camps in World War II. In an attempt to encapsulate the feeling of entrapment, a stark iron gate overlooks the Seine. The site is of a former morgue, built underground below the square of de l’Île-de-France. Pingusson drew an extensive, narrow tunnel that harbors a feeling of claustrophobia with 200,000 shining crystals lined along the walls—representing the death of each deportee in the concentration camps. The memorial pays an homage to the nation’s victims, a reflection of their suffering and terror within the concentration camps, in silence and solitude.
9. Memorial to the Victims of Communism
Victims of Communism by Olbram Zoubek in Petřín hill, Prague.
The disturbing visuals of the sculpture could instantly capture one’s attention. This was Zoubek’s deliberate intention. With a gradual degradation of the bronze figures starting from the bottom of the stairs—still intact until it rises the concrete steps. Hollow structures were carved agape to represent the effects of communism on the Czech people, decay. The missing anatomy symbolizing the suffering of the prisoners, yet still standing in courage and resilience.
The memorial is dedicated to the 205,486 who were convicted, 248 executed, 4,500 who died in prison, 327 who died from illegally crossing boundaries, and 170,938 emigrants. The memorial was revealed in 2002.
10. Steilneset Memorial
Victims of Witch Trials by Peter Zumthor and Louise Bourgeois in Vardø, Norway.
The suspended silk cocoons short stories of the 91 victims subjected to witch trials during the period of 1598 to 1962. This structure is protected by a pine scaffold façade. A pan-European phenomenon of the 15th century, nearly 100,000 people were allegedly prosecuted for being witches, some of which were found guilty but the rest were simple, innocent. If there were any shred of guilt, they would be ostracized, worse, burnt to death at the stake.
Lightbulbs in the 400-foot-long oak corridor hung behind 91 windows, the illumination conveying the convicted of sorcery, to which were burnt at the stake. Plaques of the victim’s stories alternate the alignment of small windows.
Adjacent to the cocoon, a black glass cube encases a perpetually bright orange flame projecting through a steel chair. The flames reflect off seven circular mirrors, depicting judges encircling the accused. Donna Wheeler remarked on reflectivity, where it is “devoid of any redemptive quality, illuminating only its destructive image.” This was the “Frammehuset” installation by Louise Bourgeois. The Steilneset Memorial divulges an insight into the darkest sides of human nature, hostility and fear.
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