Reflecting on a piece of land can awake different senses and memories from stories and events that occurred to us in the past and that might happen in the future. The contemplation on our environment is a process that juxtaposes our own narrative and a observation of a piece of land into a single moment. The observer takes a travelling gaze to look at his nature and at the same time provokes a journey within himself that, through a plurality of paths, shapes his mental landscape. These layers of time and stratification were embodied and took form in a specific project by Ben Gitai Architects. Commissioned by the city of Haifa in 2017 to create a space of commemoration for the soldiers who died in the last height decade of war. The architecture and design project proposal is a memorial park in Kyriat Haim in Israel which is entirely made with earth — ’Adama’ in Hebrew. In terms of landscape and architecture it is the first of the kind, no memorial was done till today in this particular technique. The memorial reassembles through its spatial qualities, craftsmen-shift, material and people’s memory into this piece of Landscape. In this project, we transform the public space into a place where the memory of the fallen soldiers are immersing with the nature, the earth. In an open architectural configuration of the plan, each earth elements his situated in an open room system, Therefore the eyes and the ears can absorb from all directions and to connect to the place, so the death could dialogue with the living of the space.
We decided to locate the memorial near the children background that are an integrated part in the piece, it is this specific overlaying source that feeds and animates the memorial itself through a reactive sound installation by the Studio for Sonic Architecture. The installation transforms the sounds of the environment live into musical harmonies through microphones and speakers integrated into the earth benches. The base for the transformation is the last movement of Gustav Mahler’s Song of the Earth, which evokes the subject of human mortality within an ongoing, ‘eternal’ final chord.
Visitors of the memorial are invited to sit on one of the four sounding earth benches and experience the transformation of the surrounding everyday sounds into an ever-changing music of memory. Additionally, each three minutes a chord is realised where each first name of the fallen soldiers is each letter is assigned to one specific note of Mahler’s song. The Song of the Earth becomes a living membrane, an invisible connection between the present environment and the past lives.
The earth memorial is becoming in this moment neither visual nor delineated, but dynamic, constantly changing and creating its own dimensions of space that represents memory through time. It has no set boundaries or background. While the eye of the visitor focuses, locates, makes abstract, and places each earth elements in physical space in relation with the surrounding.
Landscape and architecture: Gitai Architects – Charly Chochu
Other designers involved in the design of landscape:
Studio for Sonic Architecture – Alexander Pospischil, Ludwig Berger
Project location: Belinson 18 street, Kyriat Haim, Israel
Design year: 2018
Year Built: 2018