Recently, we entered an architectural design competition in which we were tasked with designing a memorial to commemorate the Baltic Way. On the 23rd of August 1989, approximately two million people joined hands to form a 373-mile human chain through the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Their goal was to demonstrate a united front against the occupation of the Soviet Union that had been in place since World War II.
The Baltic Way was an act of nonviolent protest on an extraordinary scale. It demonstrated the power of people to instigate change through constructive and collective action, united in their desire for independence. Standing Together, as we named our design, used this enlightened language of strength to inform its architectural approach to the Baltic Way memorial. The memorial operates at two scales. From a distance, it serves as a recognizable landmark within the urban fabric: a symbol of civic pride and celebration of Baltic history. At a smaller scale, the memorial engages with visitors and provides information about the people and events of the Baltic Way.
The power of the Baltic Way lay in its sheer magnitude. Standing Together explores the concept of the many comprising the whole, using the accumulation of individual elements to create a mass that is monumental yet porous. Hundreds of thin columns stand arranged along a scaled-down version of the Baltic Way route. The columns densify around the points of the three capital cities, where the most people congregated for the event, and thin out in the intermediate areas where fewer people stood. The result is a dynamic field of repeated elements that, seen from a distance, reads as a single entity. The columns echo other vertical elements in the immediate urban context: the rows of trees lining the streets; the spires on nearby churches; the masts of the sailboats on the Daugava River in summer.
Below are the presentation boards we submitted. We would love to hear your thoughts!