Competition 2014 Amsterdam The Netherlands
17 July 2014
Commercial flight MH17 traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, amid a regional civil war, was misidentified as a military aircraft and was subsequently shot out of the sky near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. 298 men, women and children representing 10 different countries lost their lives to a conflict that none had any vested interest in. This case of mistaken identity, underscores the horrific causalities of advanced weaponry, violence and globalization. By mapping where the individual victims lived and the location of their shared death the MH17 Memorial attempts to thoughtfully celebrate their lives while at the same time drawing awareness to the small planet that we inhabit.
The memorial takes the form of a large map of the Earth and uses the familiar Miller Cylindrical Projection with latitude and longitude coordinates and geographical distortion as its base reference. The two dimensional representation of the earth’s surface is depicted on a large steel table that is scaled to 1/200,000 of the length of the Equator. Land masses for all of the continents are defined in relief over the surface of the memorial.
A three story visitor center towers over the South edge of the site providing space for a multimedia/ information center, washrooms, a cafe and kitchen, administration offices, employee locker rooms as well as views overlooking the memorial. A perforated brass veil acts as ‘blind’ masking the interiors from the visitors ferrying over the map. A rooftop flower garden provides material for the flower shop located on the water level and acts as a contemplative space while the memorial courtyard confronts visitors with a piece of the wreckage.
A series of floating docks below the visitor center house long flat bottom boats known as ‘punts.’ The slender boats are used to ferry visitors out over the memorial to clusters of standing steel drums representing each victim and their respective nationalities. Buoys spaced at intervals respective of latitude and longitude coordinates, line the edges of the submerged table. These navigation indicators allow ferrymen to locate the underwater groves while large poles push off the memorial floor by the ferrymen navigating the hidden map. Breakwater sheet pile walls surround the perimeter of the map maintaining a calm water surface over the memorial.
Fabricated at one of three local shipyards from heavy plate steel and structural steel sections, the vessel is towed to the site and tethered to the Ijmeer lakebed with centenary and tension leg mooring. 288 watertight ballast cells within the base are flooded, gradually submerging the memorial to the desired depth within the lake. A pumping plant located under visitor center can adjust the buoyancy of the vessel by pumping out water from the pontoons with large centrifugal pumps.