Novasem Memorial

Acatlán, Jalisco, México. 2016.

We proposed to commemorate the recent death of the enterprise founder, to build a memorial garden in a spot between the production tower and the future office building. The idea is to make a space for contemplation as a buffer zone beside a pedestrian walk that connects with the production areas.

The result is a garden surrounded by trees, placed into a gravel bed that also acts as an infiltration zone for rain water. The trees we planted for this memorial are Lluvias de Oro (Golden Rain tree) due its flowers that are of an intense yellow in the spring.

Masons from this place build stone walls in a very skillful way. We decided to use Stone as the main material for the memorial since for us, is one of the most primitive materials we can still find. It help us to show the memorial as a very basic and primitive architectural space.

The first element of the memorial is a vertical little enclosure that we consider as a primitive menhir, a mark on the territory as a signal of a sacred space. The stone enclosure is the beginning of a water course that emerges from the ground and floods the little pool, until it reaches the steel canal that makes the water descend slowly by the site. The openings in the stone walls also work as perspective frames, adding some drama to the experience of the space.

The water course describes different phenomena related to water such as sounds, reflections and brightness. The gravel used for the infiltration ground is a typical material used in industrial construction, as well as the “I” beams used for the canals that we placed laying on the ground, almost in a surreal way.

The second scene is a place made by a stone pavement, a small lavender garden with a bench. We like to think about it as an island in the middle of the memorial. It is a place to stay where – in the future, when all the trees have grown – you could find a quiet place under the shade. The last canal takes the water to a semi-buried chamber – the grave – .

As in typical funerary monuments, an underground space is the place for the remains to whom it is dedicated. But in this case we proposed it as a buried patio made of the same stone walls. The grave is described by a stone staircase that allows visitors to seat in front of the little waterfall and the underground pool. The ashes of the founder remain inside a steel box recessed in the stone wall.

 Photographs: César Béjar.