Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism Ottawa, Design Contest Canada, Architecture Competition

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Memorial in Ottawa, Canada – design by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture, Architects

page updated 9 Jan 2017 with new images ; 30 Dec 2014

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism in Ottawa

Design: ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture

Future National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Winning Design in a limited competition: Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Canada a Land of Refuge.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

The future National Memorial to Victims of Communism will be prominently located on Confederation Boulevard (Wellington Street) beside the Supreme Court of Canada and Library and Archives Canada, with views toward the Peace Tower and other key federal institutions.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

This national memorial will create awareness of the horrors of communism and pay tribute to the more than 100 million people worldwide who perished or suffered under communist tyranny. This new Capital landmark will recognize the role Canada has played in offering refuge to the millions that left behind torment and oppression for a new beginning in a free and democratic country.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

The submission by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture was selected from among six finalists who were invited to present their design concepts to a jury of professionals and to the public as part of a national design competition.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture team: Voytek Gorczynski architect, OAA Toronto, Canada; Janusz Kapusta artist, PhD. New York, USA; Andrzej Pawlik architect Warsaw, Poland.

Comments from the Jury:
• Overall design has a powerful mission and a conviction of message
• Concept is of an international calibre, unique and contemporary: a global conversation piece and a destination that will allow teaching
• Concept has a real soul—it is arresting and has a very strong presence that reflects the message of going from a singular tragic death to the murder of millions
• 100-million concept of the smallest identifiable part of the human form multiplied by a million is clever and will resonate with visitors
• Effective use of contemporary formal elements with spatial possibilities, using the entire site
• Folded plates are powerful and the bridge of hope is a beautiful architectural gesture
• Interesting relationship to the classical architectural order of the Parliamentary Precinct
• An urban plaza with repose, axially, dignity, timeless qualities, and a strong focus

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Site Area: 5000m2
Budget: 5.5M
Anticipated completion: November 30, 2015

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

The National Capital Commission (NCC), as the steward of the Capital, has commenced remediation of this site.

A two-phase national design competition was organized to select a team to create the design for the monument. During the first phase, which closed in May 2014, the jury evaluated 20 proposals to choose six finalist teams composed of artists, architects and/or landscape architects, to participate in phase two.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Finalist teams presented design concepts to the jury on August 21, 2014. The public was also invited to view the concepts, meet the design teams, and share their comments. The jury deliberated the following day and made its recommendations for a winning team.

The Government of Canada announced that the design presented by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture of Toronto was selected for the future National Memorial to Victims of Communism.


Memorial to the Victims of Communism from ASA / Voytek Gorczynski on Vimeo.

The submission by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture was selected from among six finalists, who were invited to present their design concepts to a jury of professionals and to the public as part of a national design competition.

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism

ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture team: Voytek Gorczynski architect, OAA Toronto, Canada; Janusz Kapusta artist, PhD. New York, USA; Andrzej Pawlik architect Warsaw, Poland.

“Eternity of dead lasts as long as one pays them with memory”
… Wislawa Szymborska

Communism was and still is a ruthless and brutal political system. A symbol that would be adequate to reflect crimes committed in its name does not yet exist, and even if it did, it would never be compelling enough to reflect the reality and barbarity of these crimes.

One of the most dramatic but still not very well publicized facts about communism is that it was responsible for the death of a staggering number of people globally. It’s been estimated that communism is responsible for annihilation of 100 million human beings.
If, as scripture says every human life is one universe, communism obliterated 100 million universes – nearly an average number of stars in average size galaxy.

The system adopted either willingly or by force by nearly 45 countries worldwide still exists today in a more or less dangerous reiteration in some countries. Although it collapsed in the majority of them, its psychological and economical aftermath affecting the remaining population is devastating and will last for generations.

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism

In trying to articulate the concept for our design for this project we were grappled with multitudes of complex issues and questions encompassing both the conceptual and philosophical realms: What is appropriate artistic expression in conveying the emotions transmitted by this Memorial? How best to honor the lives lost and affected by communism?

The fundamental premise and guiding light for the project was how to evocatively honor and commemorate 100 million victims of the communist regimes throughout the world while anchoring it firmly in the Canadian collective consciousness.

We set out to visualize the inconceivable extent of the heinous communist crimes by trying to materialize this unimaginably large number in order to honor and commemorate each of the lives cut short in the name of this utopian ideology.

Primitive societies in the past were able to count to just four – anything exceeding this number was described as the “many”. To see is to comprehend. To see and touch is to understand, and get frightened by this paralyzing “many”. This assertion informs our project, since 100 million just written down or mentioned in passing is an abstraction that makes us helpless and therefore indifferent. As the most prolific communist murderer Joseph Stalin famously said: “One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic”.

This “statistic” takes main stage in our design by realizing its sheer enormity, thus raising awareness that every human life is unique and precious. If we were to dedicate 1cm2 (digit or finger – ancient measurement of length) of memory to each life lost because of communism then 1m2 would memorialize 10,000 lost lives.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

A cemetery laid out on the 100mx100m square would symbolize the 100 million lost lives and would help one to visualize and comprehend these communist crimes. This resultant “document” of “many” containing 100 million memory squares would have to be compressed to fit on our site – folded and transformed into a concrete triangle to give it a permanent and singular beginning.

The emergent folded triangular plane would contain 1m wide contemplative paths enabling a visitor direct contact with the 100 million singular pixel-like memory squares covering exterior face of folds. Each represents an individual lost life.

To make the memory squares more tactile they have been designed in the form of a three-dimensional truncated pyramid with the square the size of a small human fingertip on top.

The number of memory squares surrounding each contemplative path is indicated at the entry to each respective path in order for visitors to viscerally experience the overwhelming scale of the communist atrocities and to contemplate extent of lost lives. Concrete folds progressively get smaller as one approaches closer to the ceremonial plaza opening up progressively the space above contemplative paths to the sky.

The official inauguration of the main monument elements is scheduled for the fall of 2015.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Memorial to Victims of Communism in Canada’s Capital

Ministers Glover and Kenney announce the winning design by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture of Toronto

December 2014 – Ottawa – Department of Canadian Heritage

The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, are pleased to announce that the design presented by ABSTRAKT Studio Architecture of Toronto has been selected on the recommendation of a jury of experts for the future National Memorial to Victims of Communism, which will be located in Canada’s Capital.

The future National Memorial to Victims of Communism will be prominently located on Confederation Boulevard (Wellington Street) beside the Supreme Court of Canada and Library and Archives Canada, with views toward the Peace Tower and other key federal institutions.

“This national memorial will create awareness of the horrors of communism and pay tribute to the more than 100 million people worldwide who perished or suffered under communist tyranny. This new Capital landmark will recognize the role Canada has played in offering refuge to the millions that left behind torment and oppression for a new beginning in a free and democratic country.”

Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism

Design Competition for National Memorial to the Victims of Communism Launched

Call for design teams to express interest in a national memorial project in Canada’s Capital

April 1, 2014 – Ottawa – Department of Canadian Heritage

Today, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages Shelly Glover, along with Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney, announced the launch of the design competition for the Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism.

Teams of professional artists, architects, landscape architects and other urban design professionals are invited to submit their credentials and examples of previous work for the first stage of a two-phase competition. The first phase will evaluate qualifications and shortlist approximately six teams; the second phase will invite finalists to develop concepts.

This new Capital landmark will recognize the role Canada has played in offering refuge to the millions that left behind torment and oppression under Communist regimes for new beginnings in a free and democratic country. It will also serve to raise Canadian and international awareness of the ravages of Communist regimes and remind visitors of the core Canadian values that unite us and must be protected.

The monument, to be unveiled in late summer 2015, will be prominently located on Confederation Boulevard in Ottawa, between the Library and Archives Canada building and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Over 100 million people worldwide have perished or suffered under Communist tyranny; hundreds of millions more have suffered and continue to suffer its oppression.

More than 8 million Canadians trace their roots to countries that lived or live under Communism.

The deadline for receipt of submissions is 2:00 p.m. (Ottawa time) on May 2, 2014.

National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism National Memorial to the Victims of Communism

The Department of Canadian Heritage is managing this monument project in partnership with the National Capital Commission, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Public Works and Government Services Canada, on behalf of Tribute to Liberty.

Tribute to Liberty, established in 2008, is a Canadian charity whose mission is to establish a Canadian memorial to commemorate the victims of communism.

“This monument will be a lasting symbol of the hardship endured by millions under Communist rule and a tribute to those who risked so much to reach the safety of Canada, where freedom, democracy and the rule of law are cherished.”
—Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

“This memorial will also serve as a reminder to all Canadians that glorifying Communist symbols insults the memory of these victims, and that we must never take for granted our core values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
—Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism

“We are excited to see this project—originally proposed by Canada’s cultural communities and represented by Tribute to Liberty—moving forward with the Government of Canada’s strong support. We appreciate the engagement of Ministers Glover and Kenney, who have worked closely with Tribute to Liberty to bring this project to fruition.”
—Ludwik Klimkowski, Chair of Tribute to Liberty


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Canadian Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Canadian Design Competition

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