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Raid de tranchées
50°22'15"N 2°46'20", Vimy
Collectif Rosati Arras
Competition: Peace Memorial - Centenary of the Armistice 11 November 1918
Finalists Exhibition: April 9- 21, 2019
The Western Front is widely known for its brutal trench warfare during World War I, along with its ineffectiveness. This particular defense strategy was originally implemented as a physical obstruction against an adversary in the pre-firearm era, but developed into a manned defense mechanism in the mid-19th century. Its core strategy was to achieve victory by attrition of its enemy, while any attempt of attack from a trench would result in the slaughter of thousands of men.
To commemorate the brave soldiers who lost their lives during these battles, this project proposes to awaken the trenches they used to occupy. Since many trenches of WW I are still preserved in Flanders and Northern France, amongst others, this memorial entry wants to capture the negative space of the conserved trenches at Vimy Memorial Park. The two solid channels appear as concrete casts that have escaped their mold entrenched within the Vimy Ridge. By turning the occupiable trench solid, it allows the visitor to grasp the intricacies of these open to the sky subterranean constructions from a different perspective. Since, the trench duo is placed in a 25m radius crater, it is almost as if the visitor is descending into the earth and observing these defense gutters from below grade. The accompanying depression of the ground echoes the craters at Vimy Memorial Park along with the ones of the Zivy cemetery and Lichfield memorial.
The Vimy ridge had one of the narrowest no man’s lands of the Western Front, it only stretched 25m, while typically the distance between opponent trenches would vary from 90 to 275m. Hence, the current efforts of the proposed memorial to symbolically close this gap by intertwining the two negative trenches with each other. In the ultimate massing (the poise) the two entities touch at two locations, metaphorically giving each other hands and coexisting in Peace.