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ET Flight 302 Crash Site Memorial Monument & Park

First Prize Winner of International Competition
Alebel Desta Consulting Architects & Engineers
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The Accident

Ethiopian Flight 302 crashed on March 2019 into the ground of a farm about 115 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, six minutes after taking off from the airport. Passengers on this trip came from 35 different countries, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Slovakia, Germany, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sweden, India, Russia, Norway, China, France, Israel, and several others.

As the Ethiopian Airlines Group (ETG) has secured the crash site, an international one-stage architectural design competition was announced in order to commemorate those who lost their lives in the accident. Following this competition, the design by Alebel Desta Consulting Architects and Engineers was announced to be the winning entry on February 12, 2022.

The Design

The design provides the proper architectural solution by contemplating in a way that the victim families can address the loss and absence that has happened to them whenever they want to. It also helps visitors understand the scenario before the plane crash happened through paths and spaces. The memorial park provides a peaceful environment that aids in the healing and alleviation of grieves for the victims’ loved ones by fostering a harmonious interaction with the nearby surroundings.

The crash site is noteworthy in and of itself because it is also where the deceased is laid to rest. It can be viewed as the storyboard of all 157 people from around the world. The concept is to tell the tale of the victims who are buried beneath the earth’s surface by revealing the scenery around the main crash site in relation to the site’s character, narrating the flight’s occurrence via the trail that leads to the crash site, and blending in with the existing farmland.
The project honors two major pre-existing site elements: the burial area and the crash site, while also providing a landscape-integrated memorial space. The four-hectare design includes a memorial space, burial site, outdoor amphitheater, memorial planting area, water features, sculptures, and related facilities, as well as green lawns and sitting spots.

The burial site was kept sacred by planting different species of trees around it and creating a minimal circulation onto it. It was then connected to the healing space where victim families could begin the journey of healing by giving more flexibility in one’s grief and also allowing to personalize the process so that one can always feel connected. The impact site was utilized as a central node to connect all of the site’s components, with ripples radiating outwards to depict the impact the incident had on individuals who had lost loved ones.

The Reveal

The crash site was a key story point that was revealed through landscape alteration, and this landscape manipulation was then leveraged to produce the desired visitor experience. Four of the landscape features utilized to tell the crash site’s story were used to represent the victims’ four continents, with heights varying hierarchically to show the number of victims per continent. Absence was represented by intrusions on the inclined surfaces of the exposing elements, with intimate raised cubicle spaces serving as a place of meditation for the victim’s family. Memorial commemorating corners, names of the victims carved on walls and on the center granite, candle lighting areas, and viewing platforms are all located in the central core.

The Access

The primary access connecting the crash site to the southwest foremost entry was designed in a way to maintain the sacred nature of the burial site while also allowing visitors to easily access different parts of the site. This major access was a line that represented ET Flight-302’s six-minute storyline from takeoff to crash. The story was broken down into sections that were depicted on the main access via path design with surface alterations, guided movement, and element integration. This path was transformed into spaces, sitting areas, ramps, and falls as part of the six-minute crash experience. The secondary access to the crash site from the North West entrance was purposefully designed to suggest a story shift after the crash. The connection between the existing burial site and the designed healing space represented this shift in the story.

The project considers the community by allowing the site to be used for a variety of purposes, including community gatherings, reading spaces, a playground for the community’s children, and the provision of various visitor services. Overall, the material, finishes, proportion, ornamentation, simplicity, and symbolism, as well as the inscription, played a significant role in the memorial’s design.

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