A student project that aims to commemorate and help survivors in dealing with the tragedy of the June 2017 Grenfell Tower fire has been commended by three different architecture prizes. It was shortlisted for the Young Talent Architecture Awards, considered in RIBA’s London Festival of Architecture competition, and was nominated for the RIBA Bronze Medal by ESALA.

The project, entitled “Forensics of Grenfell: An Inquiry into the Ethics of Demolition”, and supervised by Dr Liam Ross, analyses the photographic footage of the event and investigates the issue of ethics in dealing with such sites and architecture. Through this investigation, Sonja Draskovic and Seva Yurchenko developed a proposal for the future of the site to aid the Grenfell survivors in their process of mourning.

The collaboration began when the two were final year students on the Architecture (MA Hons) programme. After graduating in 2019, Seva continued to study at ECA and is currently on the Architecture (MArch) programme, while Sonja has continued to a masters at TU Delft in the Netherlands.

“At the start of the project, memorial plans were hardly discussed and therefore we decided to tackle the issue of sensitive demolition as part of the mourning process,” said the team, “Instead of constructing a physical memorial, our project began by analysing the aftermath of the fire and incorporating time into the project.”

In this way, the project’s plans include the phases of the demolition itself as a process of mourning: “The external walls are removed, exposing the interiors, and allowing the survivors to see their flats for the last time,” said the team, “[A] viewing platform (pavilion) is then constructed around the first floor, and on the ground floor, the demolition is recorded and archived.”

Pavilion of forgetting and remembering
Work by Sonja Draskovic and Seva Yurchenko
Pavilion of forgetting and remembering

"We believe there is great value in exploring the topic of sensitive demolition as an integral process of grieving and memorialization."

Sonja Draskovic, Architecture (MA Hons) graduate, 2019

The “Pavilion of forgetting and remembering” and “Memorial garden” take the themes of memory and mourning through to the final stage of the project proposal, where an exhibition space would also form part of the site.

“The project was for me a further development of my research into memory and temporal cycles in Architecture. I guess, what was a revelation for me at the time is the way one can perceive a process of creation as the central object of design,” said Seva, “That definitely is still a part of research in the current master project that I am working on in Dorian Wiszniewski’s MArch studio, where temporal cycles and the processes related to them find their reflection in the Architecture informed by our research into Mahatma Gandhi and Ahmedabad.”

“My interest evolved further into the thematic of emergency, resilience, and collective memory,” said Sonja, reflecting on how the themes and research from this project have influenced current work, “For my master thesis project I am tackling the climate emergency of the rising sea levels and temperatures. To do so I approach architecture, infrastructure and landscape in developing more adaptive, resilient and robust solutions which will help redefine the cultural memory and people's perception towards flooding and the changing climate.”

Ethics of demolition
Work by Sonja Draskovic and Seva Yurchenko
Ethics of demolition
Plan of demolition
Work by Sonja Draskovic and Seva Yurchenko
Plan of demolition

Seva, Sonja and one of their Lecturers, Liam Ross, have been invited into discussions with the London Fire Brigade on the demolition process and memorial proposed at the Grenfell Tower site.

“Even though we are attending different masters, Seva and I continue to communicate and collaborate on projects together,” said Sonja, “In relation to our work on Grenfell we believe there is great value in exploring the topic of sensitive demolition as an integral process of grieving and memorialization.”

All of the finalists’ designs will be published in a catalogue and become part of the EU Mies Award Archive as a recognition of their authors and the architecture schools they come from.




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