Memorial to Victims of Violence in Mexico
MEMORIAL A LAS VÍCTIMAS DE LA VIOLENCIA
National Competiton, First Prize
“For a long time this place was a place of impossibility. The unfathomable was to be fathomed; the unimaginable, imagined.”
Peter Eisenman about the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
The site is in Chapultepec, the most important park of Mexico City. This part of the forest belongs to the Federal Government and was under the custody of the Ministery of Defense of Mexico for many decades; so first of all, the Memorial´s Project means the recuperation of 15,000 sqm in terms of public space.
A memorial is the architectural piece in which we can find the remembrance and the memory of the culture and history; in the particular case of the Memorial of the Victims of the Violence in Mexico, we materialize, in terms of architecture, one of the most important and current issues of Mexican society: violence. This is the big and open wound; in response to this, we propose an open project in the site, open to the city and open to the apropiation by the citizens; a project with a strong relationship with the city and her actors. The recuperation of the public space as well as the remembrance of the victims of violence are the essence of the project.
Our project plays the double condition of public space and memorial.
The first premise was to recognize the vocation of the site as a forest; with a very strong presence of nature; the trees are there and they characterize the site.
The violence is suggested in two dimensions: the void and the built.
The void proposed in the project is the space created between the steel walls and the trees. This void or empty space could remind us the concept of the no–presences and absences of the people to remember, and the surfaces of the steel walls, rusty or mirroring, show that we can lose ourselves, add ourselves, or multiply ourselves.
Besides that, if we think of violence as destruction, the construction of seventy steel walls plays as the great antidote against the violence.
The big projectual action consists on building seventy metallic walls in corten steel rising between the trees; it is a dual play between nature and architecture: the forest of trees and the forest of walls.
The society of the trees and the visitors play the living beings; the society of the walls play the unmateriality of the memories of the victims.
The list of materials is reduced: steel and concrete, added to the natural elements of the forest. We are using the corten steel in three ways: natural, rusty or stainless mirroring, each of them with different meanings. The rusty steel means the marks and scars that time makes in our lifetime. The stainless mirroring steel is used to reflect and multiply the living: persons, trees, and the water of the central space; and the natural steel is used as an unperturbed element that remind us the main and essential values that societies must keep to live in peace. Concrete is used for the lanes and the benches; for walking and reflection.
In the central space, which is the main space of the Memorial, there is a 1,200 spm fountain with an undetermined form and open geometry, to remind us that the violence issue is still opened. The fountain is covered with a grid so that the visitor can walk over the water. Water means life; water cleans, and water heals.
In this area the steel walls rise stronger and taller, creating the strongest drama in the whole place. The reflection in the water of trees and walls make our eyes go up and down. When they go up, they see the sky, the light, the sun…the hope.
Finally, one of the most important parts of the project is the humanization and appropriation of the steel walls. Society is responsible for making the Memorial. The seventy metallic walls are spaces for people to write the name of their victim, and express their pain, anger, and longings. These steel walls play as mirrors and blackboards, and by the writings, being transformed into witnesses of the pain and destruction provoked by the violence of the organized crime.
Avenida Reforma, Bosque de Chapultepec, Ciudad de México
September 9 – November 23, 2012