This project was taken on at the conclusion of both the research and design projects in first semester. At the end of those projects, the author felt that the project was addressing the side effects of misguided memorial design, rather than the actual issues of memorial design itself. This was identified through the idea of vicarious memory and living memory. While the project in Krakow dealt largely with vicarious memories of the Holocaust, the author wanted to explore the Anti-Memorial in the context of living memory and how a memorial may be built for the future in a way that would allow change or reinterpretation. Thus St Andrew’s Dock in Kingston Upon Hull was chosen as a site. This area presented some key attributes required for the exploration of memorial design. Firstly, the site has great cultural significance to an older generation of fishermen and their families, with many who lost family at sea. Secondly, the site contains a innate beauty in its historical trace that may be leveraged for narrative purposes. Finally, the site is representative of a greater cultural loss in Hull of its’ fishing heritage and natural assets which have now been lost to the general public.
St Andrew’s Dock or colloquially, ‘The Fish Dock’ was formally the center of economic growth in Hull and was the central reason for most of the cities early growth towards the west. Much of the housing built around this area was for the fishermen and their families, this meant that fishing and its culture quickly came to dominate many of the lives around this area. The sheer number of families that were dependent on the fishing industry meant that the economy was fragile, and thus its downfall was quick soon after WWII and the loss of fishing grounds to Greenland soon after. The social ramifications of this were devastating, plunging Hull into educational and economic decline. The response to this was the construction of the Industrial zones which now span the cities lengths along the river Hull and Humber Estuary, effectively cutting the population off from its natural heritage. From a planning perspective this does nothing to alleviate the social decline or sense of place in Hull, it serves only to support the economy.
Thus the design of this dock was a response to these issues, forming at a strategic scale the framework for a network of paths cutting into the industrial void with small intensified parcels of land that provided incentive for pedestrians to venture through the void. The idea was not to remove the industrial but rather, to integrate it. St Andrew’s Dock became one of these intensified areas of cultural significance. At a Masterplan scale the site utilises the historical materials found there from worn cobbles to stained concrete and contrasts those with the new powder coated steel and white concrete. The aim here was to form a stronger version of the techniques used in Krakow, to use the landscape as a narrative device and drive people to interpret as they wished. This was taken further by allowing the dock itself to continue its ecological growth, as an untouched garden. This allows the site to change dramatically over time, allowing the potential interpretations or meanings to change with them. This formed the basis of the author’s response to memorial design over time, to accept the inevitable, to accept change or imperfection is to accept human memory. The site may end up desecrated or flooded or the trees may never materialise, this however, is the risk, and beauty of a memorial built for the future, it does not aim to be perfect or indelible but only to provide the framework on which people may prescribe their own meaning or importance of memory and place onto the landscape for which they care for.