The Bjarke Ingels Group has had an extraordinary year in which they claimed multiple competitions with what seemed progressively more radical design schemes. Their losing proposal for the German Freedom and Unity Memorial though is decidedly utilitarian and minimalist in scope with a symbolic gesture that is purposely understated.
The memorial site at the Schloßplatz on the Museum Island in Berlin Germany is to commemorate the falling of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the reuniting of East and West Germany. The peaceful transition of Germany after the cold war was most powerfully felt in the city of Berlin where neighborhoods and families were literally separated for a generation. BIG’s proposal using a circle to act a bridge and sculpture is a deliberate attempt to commemorate the event as not just the reunion of a nation by crossing the water channel but as a personal experience of individuals. The act of a bridge is a gesture of the reuniting the cleaved nation. The symbol of a circle is the gentle outcome of the event, a traditional sign of wholeness and strength.
While the symbolic value of the design is clear the effect is also personal as the plaza becomes a united pedestrian mall in the process, further enhanced by the amphitheater on one end. By allowing the public to utilize the space more freely rather than ogle at an object or pile into a pavilion the gesture of the design becomes one of a normalized existence.