Memorial For The Victims of The Fire in Santa Maria, Brazil || Torres Architects || Architect of the Year Awards 2020

Torres architects : Runner-Up of Architect of the Year Awards 2020. The purpose of the Memorial is to the Victims of a tragedy that occurred at Boate Kiss, a terrible fire in a nightclub in south Brazil in 2013, which took the lives of 242 young people. This Memorial aims to bring collective awareness and reasons that make us keep going. It is a building aimed at family members and the community, creating a space to reframe death and celebrate the lives of those who are gone. Taking these intentions into account, the project offers a relevant public space open to the city and open to appropriation by citizens; a project with a strong relationship with the city and its residents, concretizing this urban gesture through the creation of a void, a neutral space almost dematerialized, providing the   perception of memories.

The project is located where the nightclub tragedy occurred, and because it is part of a consolidated set of urban networks, the bordering buildings form a disconnected frame for the land. The unevenness of the street is an invitation for its use, making the needs program divided between the underground and the ground floor.

  On the ground floor, a square made for the memory of the dead occupies almost all of its space, having its access by a staircase and ramp, leaving this floor free from building makes the area of contemplation as large and as accessible as possible. Representing each victim was created an aerial garden formed by 242 flower boxes, each one destined to a victim, being the tree of choice for the relatives of the dead. Plants mean life and the strength to move on when looking up at the sky; while the emptiness on the floor could remind us of the concept of non-presence, a space for contemplating life. A window to the sky, a space to move from shadow to light. Place to remember what happened, not to fade, to be present and to illuminate.

  In this reframing of the meaning of the tragedy is also the reframing of the place. Place where life ends without meaning the end. Place where life and death are understood, guarded and collected. An architecture that is born of people, their encounters, their words and, why not, their silence. Internally, the front portion, dedicated to the memorial, is a large and minimalist room. Projections on the walls should tell the story of the tragedy as well as the victims’ biography. The white color predominates in the project making the presence of the ensemble smooth, although strong. Wood is the material that goes into the internal composition in panels and lining and flooring of the main environments, as a way to make the spaces welcoming.

  Finally, one of the most important parts of the project is the humanization and appropriation of the walls that surround the square. The society is responsible for making the Memorial. The concrete walls are spaces for people to write the victim’s name and express their pain, anger and yearnings. These walls and their writings and testimonies support the 242 trees that represent the 242 victims, 242 young people lost in the fire and seek to represent the memory of a moment that should never have existed. A landmark of pain and contemplation.

Firm || Torres architects
Project Name || Memorial for the victims of the fire in Santa Maria, Brazil
Architect || Alberto Torres and Carolina Torres
Architect of the Year Award Category || Public Building Concept

Project Location || Santa Maria – RS
Team || Alberto Torres and Carolina Torres
Country || Brazil
Photography ©Credit || ©Fabricio Lessa