The Ascent : Transgressing Time and Space


It is said that our memories make who we are. People in our lives shape them and make them richer with their presence. They become a part of us as we move forward making new memories.

The tragic loss of the beautiful souls who boarded the MH17 can never be forgotten, but it may bring some peace to our hearts knowing that now they are in a better place, a place free of hate and negativity rather a place of peace and beauty, a place with their creator. The gap they left in the world can only be healed over time with this thought, giving strength to everyone that lost someone.

The design concept is called ‘The Ascent’ as it aims to create a spatial experience of embarking on a journey to a better place. This place is not a physical destination but is actually representative of finding peace and acceptance within. It is the symbolic place above the clouds, away from the world below. It is where we can reflect on the time and memories we shared with our loved ones and finally be able to say goodbye as we would have wanted.  Rather than letting feelings of anger foster negativity, the design tries to promote acceptance and peace for all those affected directly and indirectly.

In today’s time when man is hurting man and cruelty has gripped the world, this memorial will be a gentle reminder that human compassion can triumph over any situation. May this memorial fill our hearts with the warmth and strength needed to respect human life and deal with loss, not in anger but in acceptance.

“Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives importance and value to time. Time would become meaningless if there were too much of it.” - Ray Kurzweil


Design Team : Shivani Bhalla & Yuki Kawae (RISD Grad Interior Architecture '13)



The site is connected by three curvilinear green axis connections to the surrounding urban fabric. These connections are pedestrian paths along with bicycle tracks to help integrate the site in the daily life of the people. These green paths would be alongside the ferry routes connecting the Old Center and the North of Amsterdam. Providing land and water connections make the site much more accessible for the people. The primary means of connection to the site will be via the water. 

The landscape strategy for the site provides green radiating rings of circulation which provide different views of the memorial from different points along with connecting the users to nature. The shape of the island has been designed as a complete circle symbolizing purity and wholeness of meaning.

The grand entrance procession provides the users time to reflect and understand the purpose of their journey to the memorial. They are then directed into a dark space which is symbolic of uncertainty and distress, something that is closely associated with loss.  

The user is then unexpectedly brought to a large white room, The Memory Dome, which is unique because of its spatial experience. It adopts a circular form symbolic of purity and wholeness. It disconnects the people from the surrounding and the world to get some time for self-discovery. It is the place above the clouds away from the world below. This is a space higher than everything you left behind, it is the space where you are in the company only of yourself.

Here you can truly be alone even in a crowd as there are no distractions or anchors to the outside world. This is symbolic of the journey of each person who was aboard that plane. This space is our own journey within to inner peace and acceptance. It is where we reflect on time, memories and say our goodbyes. The room is free of any formal indication to do anything or be anywhere. This is so we can be free to just be.

The room connects to an open space filled with natural light symbolic of the warm embrace of nature which takes you under its wing and you are no longer alone. The final step of our journey is the terrace that overlooks the vast ocean and nature filled with beauty and natural light. This is a space where everyone gathers and can start to let go of their loved ones as they are now in a better place and will always be in our memory. They are free and it's time we let them go from our thoughts so they can become one with nature.

One can also plant a flower in the memory plantations with a prayer in the name of their loved one so it may bloom in each season and live on just as their memory warms our hearts.