Completion Date: On-going
Client: The Platform of European Memory and Conscience
In 2009, the European Parliament called for the creation of the first ever Pan-European Memorial for all victims of the 20th century Totalitarianism, and an International Open Competition was launched in Brussels under its patronage in 2017. Jean Rey Square, named after the former European Commission President in Central Brussels was chosen as the site.
Our design was chosen anonymously as the winner by an international jury that included, among others, Norman Foster, Michal Arad, Julie Beckman and Keith Kaseman, EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics , Former Vice President of the European Parliament Laszlo Tokes MEP and Deputy Mayor of Brussels Geoffrey Coomans de Brachene.
The memorial explores the understated expression of the attitude of indifference found in all totalitarian regimes, whereby the population endorsed in silence the inexplicable crimes. For this memorial to create emotional impact, it makes use of real letters written by people who lived in the totalitarian states, literally bringing them to light – for those passersby who stop to notice.
We sent out a simple worldwide appeal, explaining the design intent; within weeks acknowledgements of almost 40,000 letters in multiple languages, from different countries, with support from institutions and the victims’ relatives, were received, sufficient to cover Jean Ray Square twice. Images of carefully selected letters would be enlarged and permanently embedded within the concrete slabs of the square.