Orange County Crime Victims Memorial

Orange County, California. 2014.

Void Is Also A Place

According to its etymological meaning, a monument is a building constructed in memory of someone or a particular event. For us, the monument is not only its architecture. The monument is the interaction between man and the built object. What it happens between object and viewer is the monument and it is the emotive moment that we want to produce in the visitors through a temporal-spatial experience.

The mound, the stele and the water.

The memorial that we propose to build uses two key ideas: one that refers to the universal and another of individual character. In order to build a universal memorial we have recovered two typical forms of monumental architecture: the mound and the stele. The mound is a topographic elevation on the surface of the land and announces a burial place. Meanwhile the stele – called menhir in primitive cultures – is probably the most typical monument in almost any culture past or present and announces the founding of a man-made place referring to the vertical condition of his body which is unique of the human.

On the other hand, to give the memorial a certain individual character, we have proposed to build a void, an interstitial sacred space between the stelae that allows each person to have a personal interpretation of that proposed atmosphere. This void represents the absence of those who have left us for being victims of crime. Within it, a flow of water moves in the space between the small pyramidal pieces containing the names of the victims on both sides.

The full piece can be defined as a double linear formation of stelae made of bronze placed on a mound with a flow of water passing through it. From the distance the monument looks like a wall almost hermetic and dumb. The separation of its parts manifests the possibility of entering while the existing trees serves as a backdrop to the scene.

Entering the monument – inhabit it – means a radical change in the atmosphere that our senses perceive. The void between the stelae expresses its sacredness by reflections from the shiny bronze interior walls and murmuring water which runs through the interior space. Being inside means change and predispose to a state of contemplation in a small interior whose atmospheric qualities allude to all senses together: the sound and the reflections of the water on the black background of the pavement in conjunction with selected aromatic vegetation – lavender – creates an atmosphere sensitive and special for contemplation.

The small concrete pyramids emerging from the water contain the names of victims in both sides, as a shared agreement between families who want to endure the memory of their loved ones.