Darragh O'Brien Masthead

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Mandela and Martin Luther King

One competition was dedicated to the memory of Martin Luther King Junior, while the other was intended as a tribute to the living Nelson Mandela.

type Memorials
Status Competition entries

Both projects recognised that history is made at moments where conflicting ideologies converge in time and space; the pattern of oppression is dissolved and we become free to participate in an uncertain future and take responsibility for our own destiny. For an entire people to be free they must become unified under a common aim. Strength comes from this unity and dignity emerges from resistance.

Central to the Mandela design proposal is the idea that all the peoples of South Africa will be represented at the Statue of Freedom. The moment of change is conceived as an intense gap between two substantial solid forms; a space of massive scale where, upon passing through, we know that nothing will be the same again. It was also proposed to locate a single replica column within each community, thereby creating a physical connection between the people and the memorial.

The brief for the Dr Martin Luther King memorial required a design that communicated three ideas about the man, the message and the movement. We argued that these ideas were in fact one; personified in the man - Dr Martin Luther King Jr. History allows us the luxury of perceiving connections from an objective distance, where previously fractured ideas become unified at a single point in time. Our design response was born from the need to focus attention on the idea of a significant moment in time, a point of convergence. The memorial was to be constructed entirely from glass, symbolising the powerful fragility of an instant, a point where history is irrevocably altered by the inherent strength of a unified movement. In this contained space the significance of the memorial was not predetermined, but was wholly dependent on the individual's ability to thoughtfully occupy space.