Slavery Memorial

Site: Nantes, France

Status: Conceptual Design

Program: Cultural

Client: City of Nantes, France

The site of the Slavery Memorial was the processing depot for millions of African and Caribbean slaves.  This was the location for distribution, where persons were traded, branded, and dispersed without any acknowledgement of humanity aside from the recording of retail information.  The Slavery Memorial is a vessel of memory-scapes and data-fields for the forgotten culture of slavery. The structure mediates between land and sea by oscillating between the horizontality and the expansion of the urban growth on the site by merging history into the horizon. The memorial levitates above the ground and generates zoning of horizontal banding across the site. The bands define historical information and differentiated public garden surfaces. The fluctuating terrain of sculpture gardens occupies the collage of history between the folds of the shifting bands. It combines the two realms of the public space and the memorial space. 


The memorial spaces are activated at night by a transforming spectrum of lights, media and sound linking the city with the public pedestrian flows. The public space acts as an urban observation deck uncovering the cultural and economic development of the city through the water ports.  The memorial engulfs and grafts series of surfaces on the existing historical building in order to interface the past with the present. Constructed with same precision as a bow of a ship, the memorial vessel attaches to the edge of the water site.  Through different seasons, the water seeps through the vessel– such that parts of the spaces are submerged.  Event surfaces allow gathering to celebrate and give voice to marginalized cultures. Slavery Memorial is a vital space and a place for sustaining memory and cultural aspirations of the contemporary form of slavery.