by Meghna MehtaJul 17, 2020
Uruguay-based architecture and urban design firm Gómez Platero has imagined a monumental ‘World Memorial to the Pandemic’, resting blissfully on the country’s capital, Montevideo’s sparkling coastline waterfront. Accompanied by the sounds of waves crashing on stones, of bubbling flowing water and squawking seagulls, the sculptural, circular memorial when realised, will be the first large-scale monument providing a sensorial, picturesque space of reflection, to remember those affected by pandemics across the world, especially COVID-19. The drawing board project utilises the lasting power of architecture to designate a space for mourning and introspection, a space for visitors to realise that they are not alone in this vast world and its entropic ways. “The structure symbolises a deep love for humanity and will stand as an emblem of the shared struggle and loss each one of us has endured in frightful times like these,” shares the firm.
“Architecture is a powerful tool to transform the world. It is, above all, a collective and historical reality, made of small fragments which survive over time and become culture. It is a way to show who we are on this planet. Monuments too mark our shared cultural and emotional milestones. By creating a memorial capable of activating senses and memories in this way, we can remind our visitors, as pandemics do, that we as human beings are subordinate to nature and not the other way around,” says Martín Gómez Platero, Director and Lead Architect, Gómez Platero.
According to the firm, the World Memorial to the Pandemic can welcome up to 300 visitors at a time, while obeying current social distancing guidelines. Most of the cultural building is planned to be pre-assembled in workshops for an on-site assembly, minimising the impact on its natural environment.
Shaped like a disc shaped monolith 40 m in diameter, with a 10 m wide hole in the centre, the structure is perched on the edge of an untamed section of a Uruguayan urban waterfront, its far edges slowly tapering upward. The memorial’s concave internal surface is finished with concrete, while its main platform and underside will be coated with Corten steel, a highly durable, low-maintenance material that can weather the passage of time as well as extreme terrain and water level changes.
A circular sector is sliced out to form the entrance to the memorial, a lengthy pedestrian walkway drawing visitors to the poignant form, taking them away from a noisy, distracting urban setting and releasing them into nature’s sight and sounds, heightened by lofty ocean breezes, chirping birds and crashing waves. One can see textured stone and rolling ocean beneath the designed void, enhancing this stage of contemplation, cloaked in nature’s majestic, pure state of being, a reminder of our fragile, short span of time on earth.
As per Gómez Platero, the World Memorial to the Pandemic will be completed under the official direction of the office of the President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, and are securing the actual site for the monument, following discussions with the government. “Current plans have the project breaking ground in October with the construction lasting an estimated five to six months. Its cost, approximately $1.5 million, will be funded privately,” they inform.