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Competition: Covid-19 Memorial – Architectural Review

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An open international ideas competition is being held for a new memorial to the victims of Covid-19 anywhere in the world (Deadline: 22 March)

The call for concepts – organised by Architecture Ideas Competition Hub – invites designers from across the globe to draw up concepts for a new monument providing a space of remembrance in honour of the millions of people who have died as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Proposals may focus on any publicly accessible site and should provide a space where everyone impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic can reflect on their collective and individual experiences, which for many included not being able to attend funerals for loved ones.

The National Covid Memorial Wall in central London

The National Covid Memorial Wall in central London

Credit:Image by Shutterstock

According to the brief: ‘The global pandemic has already taken more than four million lives and it has changed the way we work, live, play, and interact with others in so many ways. Because of Covid-19, our lives will never be the same and the world is still grieving.

‘Our challenge is to design a public memorial, to honour those who have departed as a direct result of the Covid-19 outbreak and to bring some closure to those who are suffering the loss of friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones. It will be a collective reminder for both present and future generations and a symbol of hope that mankind can withstand and overcome any obstacle.’

Since being declared a global pandemic in early 2020, Covid-19 has lead to more than 300 millions cases of infection and the deaths of more than four million people.

Significant restrictions introduced to limit the spread of the disease have meant many people were unable to mourn the loss of friends and relatives in the traditional manner.

The latest competition comes shortly after the City of London Corporation’s Open Spaces and City Gardens Committee approved pushing ahead with the creation of a new NHS Covid memorial in Postman’s Park – home to the famous Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice wall of tiles – which could be the focus of a new competition for young designers and artists later this year.

In summer 2020, the RIBA announced three joint winners of a contest to imagine what life in our new, post-pandemic world could look like by 2025. Since March 2o21, a large riverfront wall on the edge of St Thomas’ Hospital in central London opposite the Houses of Parliament has been used as a public mural painted by volunteers to commemorate Covid-19 victims.

In September 2020, a total of 200,000 US flags were installed at the Mall in Washington DC to commemorate people who had died from Covid-19

In September 2020, a total of 200,000 US flags were installed at the Mall in Washington DC to commemorate people who had died from Covid-19

Credit:Image by Ted Eytan

The Covid-19 Memorial competition is open to everyone aged 18 years and older. Participating teams may feature up to four members. Submissions should include a single A1 board featuring a conceptual design and a 150-word project description.

Applications will be judged 15 per cent on concept, 20 per cent on design, 15 per cent on practicality, 20 per cent on originality, 10 per cent on choice of site location, and 20 per cent on presentation. All applications must be in English.

Judges will include Š?astný Pavel of Š?astný Pavel Architekt in the Czech Republic; Rujana Markovi? of Studio Arhitektri in Croatia; and Antonio Escandari of USA-based D’Antonio International.

The overall winner will receive a £750 prize while a second prize of £300 and third prize of £150 will also be awarded along with three honourable mentions.

Q&A with Sergio Barbosa

The organiser discusses his ambitions for the competition

Why are you holding an international ideas competition for a public memorial to people who have died as a result of Covid-19?

Architecture Ideas Competition Hub is an online platform dedicated to contemporary architectural thinking.  We challenge architects to debate today’s architectural paradigms and the issues our society faces through the competitions we promote. There is nothing more current than the Covid-19 crisis and that is why we are holding this challenge. Many people did not have the chance to say goodbye to their lost loved ones due to the many no-contact restrictions which existed at the time. We feel that a memorial space will help to alleviate that feeling. Usually, public memorials are focused on past events, however we believe that they can be as useful, if not more so, during a current crisis.

A Covid-19 pandemic memorial plaque in London

A Covid-19 pandemic memorial plaque in London

Credit:Image by Leyton2021

What is your vision for a future Covid-19 memorial, and what would you like to see in the submissions to the competition?

We do not wish to influence participants’ approach in terms of the program or aesthetics of the memorial as the competition is still far from its submission date. Nevertheless, we believe that proposals should be local as different people have a different understanding of death and a particular way to deal with loss. We encourage diversity. We believe that contemporary structures like the one we are proposing can play a major role in the urban landscape.

What role do you see this competition playing in the development of new local, international and under-represented architectural and design talents, and helping to engage with our communities in interpreting the built environment?

We would like to see not only architecture students and recent graduates participate, but entrants from other backgrounds as well. Participants are welcome as individuals or as part of a team. We believe that this type of competition is very beneficial to emerging and talented professionals as they are the future of architecture and urbanism, and also for consolidated practices who are also an influence to others. We are sure that a Covid 19 memorial will be a reality in the not-so-distant future, and we would like to contribute to the concepts and debate.

Notre-Dame Cathedral rebuild proposal by Studio Fuksas

Notre-Dame Cathedral rebuild proposal by Studio Fuksas

Are there any recent similar competitions or projects, either locally or internationally, which have delivered impressive results?

We were very impressed with the engagement from the worldwide architectural community when a fire destroyed Notre Dame’s roof back in 2019. In a voluntarily way, we saw a community joining forces, thinking, debating and proposing solutions. Rather than forwarding proposals to simply replace the roof, many vivid and creative ideas were proposed to challenge a very contemporary paradigm – how to intervene in a historic structure and how to incorporate contemporary architecture into it.

How do you see projects at AIC-HUB evolving in the future and what competitions will you hold next?

We are a new platform, but we have many years of experience and qualifications in the field of architecture, and in architectural competitions in particular. We will try to diversify our challenges with different scales and typologies, being faithful to our beliefs in contemporary paradigms and sustainability. We will try, whenever is possible to incorporate other artistic inputs and references into the architectural universe. We will soon be launching two competitions based on literary references – Italo Calvino and José Luís Peixoto. Our goal for the future is that with the collaboration and sponsorship of local councils we could work on real case study scenarios, promoting the reuse of existing structures and the redesign of public spaces.

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