14 months after Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames, London architecture studio JAA have made public a proposal to turn the shell of the tower into a black concrete-clad memorial for the 71 one people who lost their lives on the 14 June 2017.
A blackened symbol of economic and social inequality in one of the world’s major cities, the Grenfell Tower is a charred and haunting sight, and despite initial reports – in March of this year – that the government had agreed to let the tower’s residents have a say in how the tragedy was memorialised, it has recently come to light that the local council of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have resumed temporary control of the site. It has been suggested that the council will go ahead with plans to demolish what is left of Grenfell, despite reports that residents and survivors would prefer an on-site memorial.
Purely conceptual, the proposal includes plans to leave the tower standing, with the remains encased in what JAA describe as “a full-height sarcophagus made from 224 black concrete panels.” The rooftop would be accessible, with a memorial garden added, and a community centre and boxing gym would take up space in the building’s lower floors.
Speaking to Dezeen, JAA’s director Jenny Fleming says of the proposed memorial – known as Grenfell Tower: in Memoriam – that, while she expects there to be a backlash, “we think it’s important that we have these conversations. Because if we don’t have them, it will end up as a little garden or plaque, one of these community-in-inverted-commas things. We think it will be watered down. It will just fade over time."
A government-ordered public inquiry into just how the fire within Grenfell spread so quickly is currently underway.