[Historic england Competition // Immortalised]
Public and civic spaces are designed to reflect national values. They are designed to encourage and allow for social and cultural exchange. As such, they form and communicate a narrative of who we are as a society and the values that we uphold. The largely masculine and militaristic figures that monuments depict act as a physical and narrative reminder of the trauma inflicted upon the colonized and the enslaved. The opportunity that monuments might provide to reflect and learn about history does not diminish the fact that their presence in public spaces is inappropriate and potentially dangerous.
With The Void, we seek to move away from the glorification and worship of individuals and instead focus on collective reflection and remembrance. We propose a move away from monumentalising, and instead seek to exaggerate absence as a reminder of those who so often are left out of history and our memorial landscapes: specifically, women and people of colour. This project both figuratively and literally highlights the void and absence of these individuals in national remembrance and narratives, while paying tribute to them. The Void strips away beacons of nationalism and gives it back to the people who inhabit and occupy the city. The Void represents the gap in British history and in public space, physically carving out space in the city and urban fabric for marginalized communities. This space invites the public to occupy and fill the void with personal ideas and feelings about those they wish to honour.
Our intervention proposes the inversion of the plinth, where the ground is excavated and fitted with black granite. The contrast of the stark black granite in the middle of the urban fabric immediately calls attention to this space, emphasizing forgotten narratives in British history. This literal cut in pavement acts as a physical reminder of the space that has never been given to minority and marginalized communities both in history and in cities. The proposed excavated space forces people to pause causing a physical interruption in the flow of city life, demanding consideration from the public.
Appearance: Black granite is used for its clean and simple look. The stark colour will create a strong visual in the context of the city.
Properties: Black granite as a material is incredibly reflective. This adds another dimension to the memorial, physically reflecting the surrounding city and people within in this space.
Sun: The sun will warm the stone and reflect the sky.
Rain: When water gathers in The Void, it will reflect its surroundings and emphasize the vacancy of space.