Memorial in the Sky—

Memorial to the Victims of Flight MH17


2015—Competition, 1st Place
Hosted by MatterBetter

As Untitled Studio


Past memorials have often brought us to confront an artifact or Architectural object that serves as a symbol of an event, forcing the individual to orient their emotional struggles onto the artifact. In this way the memorial is separate from us and we enter into dialogue with it.


With “Memorial in the Sky” we search for a way that the individual may engage the memorial of MH17 directly. Where there is no artifact, no architecture, there is only a garden and an experience that we step into and become. In effect we become witness to a condition, a spatial, emotional condition that we are a part of. We become the memorial itself through spatial empathy with the event which we seek to memorialize.

The experience of mourning is a complex process. We strive therefore to create not an artifact or Architecture to be observed, but instead an evolving platform of experiences. A sunken dais, floating just below the IJ’s surface, filled with a shallow layer of water, acts as mirror to the sky by calming the waters to a perfect plane. Radiating atolls of native Dutch plants will grow and provide life for migratory birds, insects, and aquatic species. Where MH17 ended with profound loss, we begin this memorial with the creation of life.

The ferries disembark the visitors on the west end of the dais. A series of narrow paths guide the visitors onto the atolls and into the main congregation space, beneath the ground of the largest atoll. In the shallow water to the west, toward the IJmeer, sits a memorial in the sky. The frames of 298 chairs sit still in the water and the sky, among the clouds above and below. A light handrail at the edge separates the deep blue waters of the IJ and the still, reflective waters of the dais.

Each atoll on the dais extends several meters into the water, with depths varying depths depending on their proximity to the edge of the dais. The atolls will birth new habitats for native aquatic species, migratory birds, and small insects. Small inlets of water allow the islands to remain hydrated. The water is filtered through the islands and into the shallow platforms that the visitors walk along, to offer a crystal clear reflection of the sky. Out of death comes life.


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