We were selected by the Brussels Government to create a memorial in commemoration of the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 22nd of 2016. We felt that it would be most appropriate to offer an intimate and protected place, where victims and their relatives could find a moment of calmness and contemplation. The Sonian forest adjacent to the city centre, with its untouched forest floor, appeared to us as the right location. After extensively exploring the forest, we found a natural clearing on top of a hill, and surrounded by majestic beech trees.
A tree has been planted for every victim who had lost their life; thirty-two in total. The trees have been planted in a circle, at a distance of two people holding hands. The choice of tree is birch, the symbol of youth and regeneration, and an indigenous tree of the understory capable of growing below the forest canopy. Their white trunks set them apart from the surrounding forest.
Within this circle of trees, a second circle has been created with Belgian bluestone, traditionally used for tombstones. Thirty-two massive blocks have been cut into circular segments. Anchored in the soil on a perfect horizontal plane, the ring reveals the natural slope of the forest. On one side the blocks are level with the forest floor, while on the other side they reach the height of an inviting bench. Different views of the forest are framed by a circular path between the trees and the stones.
The memorial delineates a double void in the forest. The trees cut out a circle in the sky, while the stones draw a ring on the floor. The memorial positions itself between the changing sky and the stable forest floor. It is mute, beyond words, offering a moment of peace.