For many in the U.K., the remains of the Grenfell Tower in London's North Kensington neighborhood are a constant reminder of code failures, negligence, and tragedy. And though the government has already promised to solicit input from survivors, bereaved loved ones, and the community in determining the site's fate, plans have yet to be made public. While some expect the tower to be torn town, local firm JAA is proposing an alternative future for Grenfell.
In recently revealed renderings, JAA founders Alessio Cuozzo and Jennifer Fleming propose turning the charred tower into a black concrete–clad "sarcophagus" dedicated to those who lost their lives in the tragic fire.
“The issue is still exceptionally raw and whilst it’s an uncomfortable conversation to have today, if we don’t have these conversations soon, the building will be razed to the ground," Fleming says of the firm's decision to release this proposal. "Our concern is that this tragedy caused through shameful negligence will be whitewashed, insufficiently memorialized, and as such, may well fade from the collective memory over time."
The memorial proposal envisions enrobing the 24-story structure in 224 black concrete panels, adding a rooftop garden for public access, and renovating the lower levels to include a community center and a small public documentary gallery dedicated to the fire and its victims. The duo also calls for the reinstallation of a previously existing boxing club in the lower level. All other floors between the community center and the rooftop garden would be closed off.
In the evening, apartment 16—where the fire originated—would be illuminated as "a quiet nightly narrator of the tragic event," according to the firm.
"This project does not claim to be the answer to the difficult conditions found in the aftermath of Grenfell, but instead offers an alternative way of thinking about the site and its new-found sanctity through disaster," the duo write in the project description. "If we build over these individual spaces borne out of tragedy we will forget over time, leaving the door open for such tragedies to reoccur. The city needs its scars; the city needs to remember."