Adjaye Associates have designed a memorial for the city of Niamey in Niger which will commemorate those who have lost their lives in the fight against terrorism along the country’s southern and western borders. Located within the heart of the city, the monument will combine a memorial, a new urban plaza and a multi-use civic gathering space. Placed on a triangular plot, a gently inclined plane carries a group of 20 meter high pillars and allows a view over the city.
As visitors approach the Martyrs Memorial, they enter a labyrinth of pillars which through a rhythmic interplay of light, shadow and geometry appears to be almost abstract. Flanked by a grid of trees on both sides that form a shaded canopy, the colonnade becomes a forest, establishing a sacred space that honors the dead and acts in service to the living. Each pillar symbolizes the individual lost, extending towards the Niamey sky whilst grounded and situated in its urban context. At night, beams of light projecting from the pillars become part of the urban skyline, acting as both a beacon of hope and a visual guide toward the civic heart of Niamey.
The ground-level civic space provides a respite from the Niger heat and is designed for flexibility to allow for multiple uses from the religious to city-organized events. The pillars — emerging from the memorial above — serve as a collective cooling strategy by creating a series of thermal chimneys extracting the heat build up. Concrete, the primary material, and accent materials such as bronze coloured frames and perforated steel panels, add to both the endurance and durability of the structure. Light is curated into this dark space through geometric perforations to the façade creating a sanctuary punctuated by tessellated shadow. The foundation stone for the monument was laid in October.