As the number of deaths from COVID-19 continues to climb around world, Gómez Platero Architects unveiled plans for a stunning waterfront monument in Uruguay. The specific site and project launch date are still to be determined. But the idea is to create a physical space where people can mourn victims of the pandemic—contemplating the relationship between nature and humanity in a dramatic structure set against the imposing scale of the maritime landscape.
Most of the memorial would be created at the architecture studio’s workshop and then assembled on site, helping the team meet the targeted turnaround time of six months. The prefab construction would also reduce the risk of damaging the site’s ecosystem, helping achieve another goal: to build a collective consciousness that humankind “is not the center of the ecosystem in which it lives but that we will always be subordinate to nature itself.”
That concept is reinforced in the design itself, with plans to locate the memorial along the coastal waterfront, accessible only by a long pedestrian walkway designed to gradually pull visitors away from the sights and sounds of the surrounding urban environment. In the center of the platform, there would be a 10-meter-wide (33-foot-wide) hole through which rocks and the ocean are visible, “where nature and artifice meet.” Upon completion, the plate-shaped structure would be able to hold up to 300 people while still complying with social distancing guidelines.
The pandemic has killed more than 906,000 people around the globe as of September, according to the World Health Organization. And while Uruguay was reporting just 1,741 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 45 deaths at that time, Uruguay’s residents don’t have to look far to witness the pandemic’s horrific toll. Neighboring Brazil has the world’s second-most deadly outbreak, with nearly 4.2 million cases and more than 128,000 deaths.
The sheer volume has left much of the world searching for ways to cope and mourn their dead. Residents of Vienna, Austria have been gathering at the city’s Plague Column, built in the 1600s to mark the Black Death. In the digital space, a group of activists launched a 24-hour COVID vigil, while dedicated social media accounts, including @FacesOfCovid on Twitter, have helped people from around the globe honor the fallen. The World Memorial to the Pandemic, however, would be the first large-scale brick-and-mortar monument to the victims.