Engraving Absence

Project Year: 2014
Project Type :  International Competition
Location : New Zealand
Program : Memorial

The Canterbury Earthquake left people with indelible scars. The four cracks as an intervention of void/ absence within the site symbolize the hollow wound and deep sense of loss for victims and their families. Visitors experience it by walking through the void in the cracks, and they would recognize the pain of this disaster intuitively. The floor of the crack is located below the ground so that this space can be separated from the city and provides a sense of serenity as a memorial space. The hollow wound shouldn't be forced to be forgotten. We should live embracing it instead. As if being closed by scar formation on a body, these cracks are the embodiment of the loss and become ingrained into the site. The memorial should be a place for the living as well as for the dead. This is a place where the life and death / presence and absence coexist...This memorial space should be a minimal intervention into the existing context. Therefore, the majority of the wall is buried and hidden under the ground minimizing the parts on the ground. The depth of crack gets deeper from 0m to -1.5m as it goes into the middle. Even though this space is underground, it feels bright and warm with sun light due to the angle of walls which opens up to the sky. This wall is raised from the ground by 0.3m to 1.2m and it becomes a guardrail and bench for people on the ground since the ground level will be still utilized as a public park. There are some architectural devices blurring the boundaries between the memorial space and the existing landscape. First, the end parts of cracks gradates into the grass by using porous paver. Second, one end of the fourth crack reaches the river and the water gets in to make a water feature. At night, the up-light from the both sides of the floor illuminates the overall walls, so that the presence of crack be visible from a distance.


185 scarson the wall

The sloped and kinked walls are clad with stone panels and they have strong horizontal patterns. These 185 scar-like horizontal patterns represent 185 victims. Visitors touch the scars on the wall walk reflecting the loss of people who died while walking through the void in the crack. The scar for man is embossed and the one for woman is caved in on the wall. The different length of the scar represents the different age of victim. Providing more information about each victim would help visitors to share the pain of loss with the families of victims. Visitors should be able to know intuitively more about each victim, along with their name.