While searching for articles and talks on memorials, I ran across the TED talk Architecture That’s Built to Heal by Michael Murphy. It is a little off topic from what we are learning in our Art and War class, but it does bring up some good points to think about. He brings up an excellent point that “architecture can be a transformative engine for change.” This follows a story where his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Murphy moved back to his parents and began working on their house, remodeling it. Soon his father started to work with him and over time beat cancer. He told his son that it was that house that saved his life.
Butaro Hospital, Rwanda
Murphy then goes into his work with hospitals. He noticed that the way hospitals were designed was making people sicker. There was a lack of care for the architecture and design put into these hospitals. After this Murphy worked on a hospital in Rwanda. The Butaro Hospital was revolutionary not only for Rwanda but the rest of the world. They discovered that tight hallways were making people sicker, so they simply placed the hallways on the outside of the building. The ventilation system was always failing at the old location, so they designed the building to be more of an open circulation air system from the outdoors. This saved energy and solved their electrical problems. The care rooms themselves were closed in and dark before so they redesigned it so each bed, even though still close nit, would still have their window. This would not add to the costs and be easily done, providing a better experience for the patient.
Proposed design for victims of lynching in America
Murphy ends with talking about memorials in Rwanda, Germany, and South Africa, “reflecting on the atrocities of the past to heal the national psyche.” He also noticed the America is yet to have anything like this. He discovered Bryan Stevenson who was documenting over the 4,000 lynchings and marked every county in which this occurred, and he wanted to build a national memorial to the victims of lynching in Montgomery, Alabama. When Murphy visited Montgomery with Stevenson, he was brought around to the many monuments and plaques erected to honor the Confederacy. They have designed a memorial that mimics the lynching of humans as floating white columns. Their names would be inscribed on the walls. They would then place “grave markers, one for each county, and as they put these markers in these counties, they would plant a tree and replace the soil from where these lynchings took place. I find this to be a very strong memorial and am looking forward to seeing its completion.