Z-A Studio | Seismograph Memorial
What is the expected impact of a memorial created today, years after the holocaust? It commands dealing not solely with memory, but also with the emotional relevance that drives learning and understanding. It is precisely this emotional relevance that we are after.
THE MEMORIAL at the Frankfurt Grossmarkthalle goes beyond a presentation and preservation of the past. It is located on the greenbelt of Frankfurt Au Main and by that alone is not a traditional site that is visited as an attraction, instead it is located on a leisure path where people bike and picnic and go about their daily activities. This unique location for the memorial and its proximity to the ECB has profound meaning and exposes big questions: What is memory three generations later? What is a holocaust memorial today? It is these questions precisely that in turn give rise to an exciting opportunity: a Memorial site that not only serves as a place for memory and information about but aims to actively engage visitors in the shaping of their attitudes, perception and expectations for the future as it relates to memory and the Holocaust.
GOALS – To achieve this purpose requires a passionate and compelling experience that communicates to visitors on an emotional level and an intellectual one. It demands a personalized experience – one that touches each and every visitor. It demands a place that is aesthetically pleasing as well as sends a strong message to create an environment that is desirable.
We aim to achieve these goals by creating an experience that on all its facets:
- Targets understanding through involvement, taking visitors through a physical space that involves them emotionally and that they become a part of and therefore understand and care for. “Involve me and I will understand” .
- Promotes personal responsibility through activation, by creating a platform that allows visitors to have a voice and an impact we diminish the role of the memorial as a one sided street of those who tell and those who are told, making the memorial more accessible emotionally.
- Increases relevancy through adaptation, the Memorial becomes a living part of the city, allowing it to look at the past and the future simultaneously by being dynamic and responsive and through compelling content that drives ongoing interest.
SITE – We have located the memorial on the riverbank, on the convergence of the bridge and the two main arteries; the artery that leads north to south connecting Hanauer Landstrasse and the Main and the artery that leads east to west that is the Main promenade.
THE GESTURE – A seismograph line cuts the riverbank altering its continuous smooth surface in a disconcerting unnatural motion. This interruption creates elongated shapes that penetrate the water. The strength of this gesture is visible from afar and experienced by walking along the pavers that penetrate the water.
The outlines of the pavers that penetrate the water continue inland creating broken shaky ground.
These lines form a three-fold infrastructure:
- Permanent display – of text etched into the ground giving the background and story of the events that took place at the site and for which this memorial is for.
- Digital display – of text and information that changes.
- Light Rods – grounded into the pavers on their outlines.
This infrastructure is embedded in the pavers creating veins that connect the seismograph line that penetrates the water and the bike/pedestrian path. Juxtaposing the strong physical gesture of the seismograph with the ephemeral organic lights.
WALKTHROUGH – The experience is personalized, contemplative, performative and dynamic and is experienced strongly on multiple scales:
At the Memorial – Walking along or towards the Main, visitors are greeted by a massive change in the riverbank and the ephemeral organic dancing lights above it. The seismograph line extends into the water to welcomes a stroll as if on a deck into the water. Walking to the water visitors encounter the veins of information, detecting two types of information – text etched in the ground (permanent display) telling the story of the events that took place at the site, as well as digital text, embedded in the ground flowing in the veins and creating a platform for contemporary information and discussion.
Along the veins visitors encounter the reactive light rods. By passing close enough to a light rod its light intensifies welcoming and signaling to the visitor to get closer, to hold on. By holding onto the light rod its light continues to intensify. This moment of action and of participation is emotional, lighting the rod is not prescriptive; each visitor interprets it in their own way; what they want to remember, how they want to affect the overall view and city. In a way this is a communal as well as private moment since the experience is intensified by having others doing the same. Continuing toward the water, visitors find themselves increasingly alone, a contemplative moment on the water engulfed by the strong gesture of the seismograph while facing the other side of the river.
From Afar/Above – As visitors of the area and of the city (bridge, ECB towers and across the river) view the memorial they are a part of the experience. The shift in ground of the river bank, the seismograph line, is visible and identifiable on all scales. The reactive nature of the memorial’s tall organic light rods is identifiable on all scales as well. This is turn creates a performance of light that resembles tall candles or the dance of the fireflies. The experience of the memorial transcends being at the memorial itself, it’s view from afar tells of its story and of its use through light juxtaposed on the seismograph line gesture.
The Memorial tells a story and provides a compelling experience through reactive performative light juxtaposed on the seismograph line gesture. These images will join to form clusters of meaning and illuminating moments for the visitor at all scales. These moments affirm the complexity and changing nature of memory, our role in preserving it and our personal responsibility as a part of a community.Location: Frankfurt Au Main, Germany Architect: Z-A Studio Interaction Design: Inbar Barak Studio Design Team: Inbar Barak, Dale Suttle, Guy Zucker Project name: Seismograph