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At the time of writing this, the number of COVID 19 related deaths in the UK is recorded as 46,853. An estimated 1.5 million people were unemployed in August 2020. The country is preparing to enter a second nation-wide lockdown.
The continuing severity of the pandemic continues to affect so many aspects of peoples lives. Varying changes in health, work, relationships, travel and recreation have lead to an entirely unique experience for each person. Each person has their own story.
Though no story is identical, feelings of isolation, loneliness, uncertainty and, ultimately, loss, are common to everyone. Furthermore, many people have lost much of their freedom, to meet and interact with one another, and to interact with the world, and their environment.
When designing this memorial, I looked to create a space for remembrance, for each person to reflect upon their own experiences, and to recognise and commemorate the sacrifices of others during this time. In doing so, I hoped to provide the opportunity for comfort and rest, as well as interaction between visitors and their environment.
In the UK, different restrictions have been applied to each region depending on risk and severity. It seems appropriate to design a larger, regional monument to acknowledge the different experiences of each region.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an open-air public exhibit of modern and contemporary sculpture, located in Northern England. The 500 acre park places art in dialogue with the environment; an open space for thought and reflection in the presence of beautiful landscape. This is an ideal place for a Covid-19 monument, commemorating the experiences of people in the North of England.
This proposed design consists of an enclosed walkway, stretching out over a body of water. Beginning as a relatively open passage, the walkway continues to narrow, before ending at a viewpoint above the water. A visitor is only able to travel comfortably across this walkway alone. High walls restrict their view of the outside world until they reach the viewpoint, where they remain isolated from the main path on the other side of the water. Seating is seen at the outer edge of the path. The constricting nature of the walkway is a reference to the feelings of isolation and loneliness felt by many during the pandemic, prompting visitors to reflect upon their own experiences.
Materiality has been incredibly important to the project. Similar to the largely human nature of the pandemic, the project uses manufactured materials: precast concrete, and local reclaimed housing bricks. Both speak of longevity, resilience and honesty.
Texture has been avoided for the concrete walkway, commenting on the spread of the virus through touch. Variation and character is still conveyed though the brick outer path, where its texture allows for better integration into the landscape.
The pattern designed for the brick path is derived from the English garden wall bond. In housing, this brick bond is only found commonly in Northern England, It is also commonly used in factories, further symbolising the historically industrial North of England.
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