With Lines of Memories, Gettysburg National Military Park meets the Appalachian Trail with an almost Japanese minimalist sensibility. All kinds of memorials and cemeteries are staggered throughout the peninsula to commemorate different battles and the dead from six nations.
The idea is to link all of the battlefields with walking paths, to help shift the common act of driving up to a historical site to take a picture without experiencing sincere feelings about the historic battle due to antiquated design.
ONZ Architects and friends sink the walking trails, fill them with low-impact gravel and create tasteful site lines with strips of weathered steel that also contrasts beautifully with the verdant green landscape. They then plant wildflowers in ceremonial spaces, creating a soft and gentle space for visitors.
Visitors almost literally melt into the background, creating a tangible, physical connection with the Earth, a connection that will become, one hopes, the catalyst for some kind of spiritual recognition at least.
By taking multiple days to explore the various memorials scattered throughout a series of different ecological zones, a healing takes place, like a pilgrimage to other holy or spiritually significant sites. This is made possible by the design team’s signs and posts that help to direct the experience.
The design strives for such poetic elements as acoustic and visual silence – both useful whilst communing with nature, and it calls for the visitor to leave everything else behind so that they can be completely present in what amounts to a sacred experience.
To walk the pastures, meadows, forests, the hills and the valley, to actually walk the distance and brave the elements, is to better identify with the scale of sacrifice, and the tremendous courage and resilience shown by men (and women, to be sure!) on all sides of the war.
Lines of Memories is the result of a collaborative effort between ONZ Architects, MDesign, LOLA landscape architects and 24H Architecture. Together they recently won second prize in the Gallipoli Peninsula Historical Natural Park Competition.
We sure hope this thoughtful design will come to life.