The Zolitūde Memorial Garden proposal submitted jointly by landscape design workshop ALPS, design office H2E and consulting agency Copywriter/Levelup was recognised as the winner of the design competition for a memorial park in Zolitūde, where 54 people lost their lives in 2013 after a roof of a shopping centre collapsed. The garden is intended to serve as a place of loving memory, where the initial shock, anger and grief have been replaced by an acceptance of the loss.
«The Memorial Garden proposed by the authors solves the task of the competition in a meaningful, detailed, and sensitive way. The proposal emphasises the concept of loving memory and togetherness, where grief and anger are gradually replaced by hope and forgiveness. The spatial concept — seemingly randomly placed spheres — creates an association with morning dew, teardrops, or spilled beads — touching, but not overly dark symbols. The memorial site has been successfully integrated into the surroundings, logical and convenient connections have been created,» comments Evelina Ozola, head of the competition jury and Riga City Chief Designer.
«The main challenge when creating the concept and landscape solution of the Zolitūde Memorial Garden was to meet the needs of the widest possible audience of Zolitūde residents, residents of Riga and visitors of the city. The functional zoning of the Memorial Garden combines a place of peaceful rest for the residents of the neighbourhood and a place of remembrance for the survivors of the tragedy and the relatives of the victims, providing opportunities for both togetherness and meditative solitude. In order to respect the social diversity of the victims and their close ones, no religious symbolism is used in the Memorial Garden, instead, an emotionally healing and meditative effect is achieved with scenic and sculptural solutions,» explains Ilze Rukšāne, landscape architect at ALPS.
In the winning proposal, the landscape ensemble of the Zolitūde Memorial Garden consists of the Togetherness Square, in which 54 spheres of different sizes are freely arranged, and the Hill of Silence, covered in rich plantings, at the site of the collapse of the supermarket’s roof. At the top of the hill, surrounded by cherry trees, a shallow water mirror will be placed in which the sky will be reflected. A small forecourt has also been created — an entrance area, where visitors gather before visiting the garden and where bike racks and a micro-mobility point are located. The Memorial Garden is connected to the structure of the public outdoor space along the entire length of Anniņmuižas Street, forming a linear park.
When designing the Memorial Garden and the linear park, sustainability and functionality in all seasons were recognised as a priority. Long-lasting and easy-to-maintain materials — concrete, steel, granite — are used in the construction of the park paths and garden area. The perimeter of the common area is surrounded by clusters of white hydrangeas and cornus bushes with white spotted leaves. The Hill of Silence is covered by a gentle carpet of sedges and flowers, its peak visually separated from the surrounding area by roses and individual cherry trees.