Smallwood Architects decided to prepare a submission for the open competition to design a National World War 1 Memorial in Washington DC. Open competitions are rarely something that we choose to enter as the chance of success can be incredibly small, as sometimes the numbers entering can be in the thousands.
We took a view that it was time for some fun and time also to allow a broad discussion within the practice on the nature of competitions, appropriate style for such an important monument and a chance for everyone to break the mould of day to day projects. To do this we held an internal ideas competition and gathered an old-fashioned office crit of 14 sketch schemes mounted on our walls…from which a favourite was to be anonymously voted upon and this scheme developed into a submission to the competition.
We were delighted with the result; over beers one Friday we had an animated discussion that teased out of our team views and opinions on ideas that highlighted the diversity and talent of our practice at every level. In the subsequent anonymous vote a clear winner emerged in the guise of Pashtrik Hoxha whose scheme caught everyone’s imagination.
The design cris-crossed the mounded site with deep walk-way channels focussing on memorials to various battles, suggesting the infamous trenches of the Somme; at night these trenches would be dramatically lit. The scheme was deliberately not a traditional Classical monument, with which Washington is already replete, rather a gentler and more contemplative experience of the bravery and horror.
The outcome of round one of the competition was that we have unfortunately not been successful among the 350+ submissions. Well done for Pashtrik for an amazing scheme- we put our best foot forward!