The Belgium monument in Amersfoort is a gift from Belgium to the Netherlands, in commemorating the internment of refugees during the First World War. The site consists of a densely forested park, a memorial brick building and a memorial wall in the middle, all lined up along a symmetrical axe. The park is in an organic shape with vein-like pathways radiating from the centre. Today, at the site of the monument, visitors can hardly recognize its value, background and origin due to the obsolescence and urban renewal in the surroundings through time.
We therefore propose “Journey of Hope” in a contemporary fashion to remember the past and to revitalize the two existing monumental elements together with the park where they all locate. Instead of creating a free standing new object to be merely looked at, we think of an integrated space where visitors can step in to experience, and to empathize the journey those war refugees ever walked, and in the meantime to balance out the weights of today and the past, offering a new portal to re-observe the history of the monumental site in general.
The design proposal depicts a series of solid portals, being planted into park landscape. These portals are placed in a way that resembles the path of the journey, engraving every moment with each portal. The portals are metaphorical elements indicating years waited; the slits in-between portals characterizes the air, the sunshine, and the hope initiated. The entity of portals and the slits in-between symbolizes a dimension in both time and space, capsulating all kinds of emotions – hope and desperation, agony and ecstasy.
Rough surface concrete is chosen for the portals because that is the most grounded and humble material that we think resonates with the commemoration. Also, the saturated grayish tone conveys a slight soberness and is in conversation with the existing memorial wall and building, without distorting the whole image thus blending new and old.