Monument Cemetery

(09) A space where monuments and memorials go to rest (Denkmal Friedhof)

The idea for this Challenge comes from a Science at Noon talk on the topic of public participation in the protection of monuments, during which the study Erinnerung partizipativ gestalten (Swiss Academies Reports, Open Access publication at Zenodo) by Anne Schillig, Gian Knoll und Sebastián Lingenhöle was presented. In the discussion, we heard the idea of a "Denkmal Friedhof" (monument cemetery) mentioned by Jan Morgenthaler, who first proposed this in 1991 for the Blatterwiese Park in Zurich. The idea is echoed in this recent submission to the «Mal Denken!» project from SAGW:

"Monuments are monuments of a time. They often say more about the time in which they were created than about the personalities they represent. Sooner or later, a monument falls out of time and becomes street furniture, which can be an urban planning quality, but does not have much to do with the original monument quality. In this respect, it is no more than logical to bury monuments that have died of significance or to move them to the monument cemetery." --Eingabe 62_HB, denk-mal-denken.ch

A digital cemetery would be accessible online through a fitting platform (perhaps in Mozilla Hubs or another open Metaverse). There would be a set of rules for adding monuments to it. We could inspire ourselves from works of platforms past, such as this virtual cemetery for pets in the (now defunct) Second Life platform:

Image source: Bixyl Shuftan

Game Rules

Much of this challenge is having to do with designing a set of rules around governing how monuments are managed in a community space. As a start, we can adapt the Game Rules presented in the idea above:

  1. A "dead" monument makes room for a new monument, which in turn meets a need of the present (to stimulate thought or remembrance), or the space that has become free simply remains empty. Monuments should thus regain their memorial potential and not simply represent eternal positions in architectural culture. Connect this to modern thought about sustaining the built environment.
  2. The cemetery does not cancel the old monument, but assigns it a new place. The place of the monument that has fallen out of the present. The monument is neither relativised, nor badmouthed, nor reinterpreted or defaced. It continues to exist, but as a "dead" monument and cultural heritage. As a monument that no longer has a social contract, but has "been". As a collective, the "dead" monuments formulate a new added value over time. They are witnesses of past presences and as such, like the graves of famous contemporaries in the cemeteries of past centuries, are themselves a monument - one of the present. Embed cultural values and far-reaching visions in your design.
  3. The game rules designate which monuments for the cemetery and where this change will be carried out. Whether it takes 10,000 signatures and a vote, or whether every 10 years building culture experts subject the monuments to a lifetime check and evaluate cemetery candidates - different paths are conceivable. We could create rule sets connected to open data sources.
  4. It would make sense to link the processes for the removal of a (physical) monument that has fallen out of time and for the erection of a new monument. The discussion about possible relocation alone would produce more sense than the mere preservation of a monument's value. Bring together our community on a participative platform like Decidim.

Data sources

Related projects

Screenshot of denk-mal-denken game

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