An open international ideas contest has been launched for a new memorial in Arras, France, marking the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War (Deadline: 11 November)
Open to students and emerging practices, the competition seeks ‘creative and innovative’ proposals for a landmark monument celebrating the centenary of the WWI armistice and constructed using 3D printing technology.
The call for ideas, organised by Sylvain Pierre Jean Architecture and Rosati Collective, aims to promote debate around the possibility of a new structure marking 100 years since the end of the horrific conflict which killed more than nine million soldiers and seven million civilians.
Arras City Hall at the end of WWI
According to the brief: ‘At the end of the war, the reconstruction of France began. Amid the destruction, a new construction technique arose: reinforced concrete.
‘In order to continue the post-war innovation spirit, we ask the participants to think about 3D printing technology and to explore its potential through a memorial.’
Described as the ‘war to end all wars’, the First World War saw battles across Europe and beyond with intense fighting in large areas of rural France and Belgium. An armistice with Germany – effectively ending the war – was signed on 11 November 1918.
The latest competition is organised by the Rosati Society which is based in Arras and was founded 1778 by a group of artists, poets and writers. The name ‘Rosati’ is an anagram of Artois, the traditional name for the surrounding region.
The call for ideas focuses on Arras, which was just 10km from the front-line where major offensives took place such as the 1918 Battle of the Somme, and was almost completely devastated by the conflict.
canadian memorial in Vimy, France
Nearby monuments include the Canadian National Vimy Ridge memorial which was built in 1936 and, in 2017, hosted a centenary event marking 100 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Digital submissions must be no larger than 7MB and feature two A3 boards featuring graphical images along with a single A4 page of written descriptions.
The overall winner will receive €500 with their design considered for construction. The top 15 designs will be published and exhibited in Arras.
How to apply
The deadline for submissions is at 11:11am (Paris GMT) on 11 November
There is no entry fee
Tel: +33 6 83 34 12 50
Q&A with Sylvain Noizet
The president of Collectif Rosati and director at Sylvain Pierre Jean Architecture discusses his ambitions for the competition
Why are your holding an international competition for a new First World War Centenary Peace Memorial in France?
Everything started with a Peace memorial project designed by my architecture practice Sylvain Pierre Jean. At first, it was only supposed to be a creative tribute to the First World War armistice centenary, but along with the Collectif Rosati (organiser) we moved on to a slightly different idea: asking other architects and students to design their own vision of a peace memorial. Launching an architectural competition was a way to create a commemoration based on creativity and innovation.
This competition had to be international because we wanted it to be an opportunity for the participants to reinvest and rediscover a part of their national or even familial history. What does the First World War mean to an architecture student from Senegal or New Zealand today? It is probably just an old historical event which happened in some remote country. With this competition they will be able to take a closer look at this French land that may have been visited by one of their great great uncles; this land, covered with fields of graves, that still expels old bullets and bombs every now and again, and we hope that they will become imbued of what happened 100 years ago.
What is your vision for the new memorial?
Technical innovation has to be at the heart of the design. At the end of the war, in order to face the amount of destruction, and therefore reconstruction, a new technique was used in a large scale for the first time: reinforced-concrete. A hundred years later, another construction technique – 3D printing – could modify the codes of architecture on a similar scale. That is why we have asked candidates to explore the potential of 3D printing technology in their design. It can be used for the shape of the memorial, as well as structure optimisation, construction methodology, sustainability gait or any other field.
What sort of architects and designers are you hoping will apply?
This competition is dedicated to students and emerging practices. It is an opportunity for young designers to be in the limelight and demonstrate their talent to the rest of the world. The best projects will be published on specialist websites, an exhibition will be held by the city of Arras and there will be a cash prize for the winning project. We are also thinking about developing the winning project for real, in partnership with a 3D printing company and the city of Arras. I personally hope that multidisciplinary groups will apply, such as architects with sculptors or IT developers. ‘Interdisciplinary’ is the leitmotiv of the Collectif Rosati. We are trying to break the walls between fields of activity in order to boost innovation and creativity.
Which other design opportunities are on the horizon and how will the architects/designers be procured?
The Collectif Rosati is developing a completely different project for the near future. The idea is to foster a collaboration between comic strip artists and architecture practices. It is an opportunity for architects to offer a new aesthetic to their visuals, especially since clients are asking more and more often for drawings instead of traditional 3D renders, even in architecture competitions. As for the artists, it is a way to diversify their source of income and to be independent while still living from their passion. A trial with a group of comic strip artists named Open-bulles and our architecture practices partners in China, France and England is on at the moment but details still need to be clarified.
Are there any other recent peace memorial projects you have been impressed by?
There are a lot of impressive memorials but l’Anneau de la Mémoire (Ring of memory) located on the top of Ablain-Saint-Nazaire’s hill is a striking one. It is a contemporary memorial which gathers the names of the 600,000 soldiers from all nationalities who fell in the Nord Pas-de-Calais during the First World War. The names are engraved on steel panels placed inside a giant concrete ring flying above the topography.