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M9 Memorial for 9 girls, Santiago, Chile

Thursday 31 May 2012

Connection between sacred and reason

Gonzalo Mardones 
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The Memorial is constructed underground, opening up to the sky through a concrete cone of 9 meters in diameter 

In 2008, there was a tragedy in Putre, Chile. During a school trip of a Catholic School, a bus carrying 35 students crashed down a hill. The victims of the terrible accident were 9 girls. In 2011 a memorial for these young and innocent victims was inaugurated in Santiago, where the girls and their families lived.

The place opens like a dialogue from the love of Mary at the foot of the Cross. The Manquehue hill is the backdrop that contrasts with the sky. The evocation of nature reaches the relief of a sacred place. The superposition of the inner circle in front of the geometry of the ramp that descends makes clear the connection between the spirit and human reincarnation. Between the sacred, the divine and reason.

The work takes primary forms which are easily recognisable; these are left to attract curiosity and fall within the oratory. The work is constructed from the underground and opens up to the sky through a concrete cone of 9 metres in diameter. 9 lanterns and 9 modules symbolise the 9 girls who left this world too early. It is the presence of divine light, that allows gravitate concrete forms, its contours, leaving them in the park in order to make apparent the dimension of sky. In other words: the interiorisation of the sky and the light into the centre of gravity of the ground. Above is sky.

The folds of concrete are shown as a human gesture with which the architecture welcomes a gathering place; a place of refuge, a meeting place within the park. It is accessed by a ramp to reach the memorial oratory. Planted in the geometric centre is a magnolia; this tree has 9 leaves into each one of its flowers. The oratory is resolved with concrete incorporating titanium dioxide and a system of phenolic moulds. The floor is paving stones in the manner of a carpet horizontal and inclined in a green slope of grass. A band of concrete on the paved surface to create a bench that faced with the presence of the Virgin welcomes 9 candles and 27 smaller candles which are inserted into the folds of concrete.

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Gonzalo Mardones

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