THE LAST WINDOW
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLAND
IT IS NOT THE GOODBYE THAT HURTS, BUT THE FLASHBACK THAT FOLLOWS...
Looking out of a window, what comes into your mind? Is it the scenery that caught your eyes? Or the memories of your loved one? If that is the last beautiful thing to see in this world, which would you choose? However, sad but true, it is never a chance to make the choice... because no one ever knows, when will be their last window...
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was a schedules international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur that was shot down on 17 July 2014, killing all 283 passengers & 15 crews on board. The Boeing 777-200ER airliner lost contact about 50km from the Ukraine-Russia border and crashed near Torez in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, 40km from the border. Most of the passangers were Dutch, while many of the others were Australians & Malaysians. The mid-air explosion caused a 15km radius wide dispersal of scattered pieces of broken fuselage & engine parts, bodies & passports over the land, dozen into crop fields & some into houses. It is a man-made tragedy that influences thousands of lives in different manners across the entire world. It is a catastrophe by human, to be remembered by human.
The tragedy had greatly affected the world, Netherlands the most, and with Amsterdam as the departure point of this one way flight, an artificial island is to be proposed in IJmeer as a foundation for the MH17 Memorial.
Fundamentally, the very basic principle of a memorial is to preserve a memory and to convey message. This, however, is often the hardest to achieve as memories are very abstract, to the extent that they are very subjective and varies dependantly on each individual based on their experiences. In embracing individualism, different channels are required to effectively portray the architecture of the memorial for it to be appreciated. Hence, the design idea of the memorial is based upon a collective memories from 2 different perspectives - those who are directly involved or attached to the tragedy, and those of the public - the citizen of the same world.
The experiences and memories from these differing 2 parties are intertwined together within the architecture. By looking into how each of them perceive the tragedy and space, the bilateral meaning of a memorial is founded. From human scale to city scale, from the point of an outsider to an insider, things of complete opposite are expected to happen at one place, and yet the memorial must be kept simple but narrative, interpretable but unpredictable. As such, a continuous transition of spaces and voids with changing scale were arranged in a way that embarks the visitors onto a journey of experiencing in terms of first person perspective on what the victims had gone through, boarding onto their last journey. The tangible and intangible memories coexist as we started to portray ourselves as them, and this brings back the intense memories of one. Besides, the configuration of the memorial forms a landmark that tells the story of the tragedy itself, marking the heartbroken incident permanently on the world map.
The journey begins with visitors coming upon a vast enclosed space in the upside-down dome volume, with narrow walkway across the space connecting two opening. The scale difference between these are intended to create an anxious experience for the visitors upon embarking the journey up ahead.
Together with minimal lighting, the entrance to the memorial speaks of a statement of how small and powerless human are, and recreates the mood of boarding onto a journey of unknown ahead.
A long and narrow passageway populated with repetitive rectangular monoliths arranged in such a way that replicating the exact seat arrangement of the flight, with exposed skeletal structure above shaped like a fuselage, the space is intended to recreate the atmosphere inside a place. The repetitive manner of the space attempts to create a sense of curiosity and lost and the visitors walk along.
The space is semi-sunken into the ground, and as visitors slowly walk into the space, surrounding ground slowly slope up and the walls appear taller and taller, while they appears to be getting smaller and smaller.
At the end of the long walk, visitors will came upon a ramp spiraling up. This rather small space creates a change in the mood, from long linear journey to a short radial one.
It becomes an important node of the memorial, connecting the ground and the above ground, creating another change in momentum and perspective. The climb forces visitors to exert more energy and be feeling more tiring and uneasy, but with promising views at the end of it.
A long walkway projecting out from the enclosed wall and over the ground. Here, for the first time visitors are greeted with the overall unobstructed view of the surrounding,
offering a change of their perception having to come out from a long confined space.
As the journey move on, the seemingly floated walkway gradually slopes and rises. As one walks, without notice their distance from the ground slowly gets higher. It is intended to create a mixture of feelings: excitement, unease, amaze... of going on a journey.
A rigid dome-shaped space illuminated with light coming from an oculus on top mimicking the shape of an airplane window, with wall cladded with recycled scrap metal plate. Lightings are also introduced as cut-outs on the cladding, represented in words that form the common memories and conversations one had before the departure, programmed to glow rhythmically.
This continuous surface of dome is intended to wrap the visitors in darkness, surrounding them with overwhelming emotion, looking through the window opening as memories start to slowly come back. It is as if the visitors are experiencing the space via the memories of the victims and looking through the last moment from their eyes, feeling the despair.