Memory Park (Kiev)

1968–1981
Architect: A. Miletsky
Concept, design, architectural plastic copyright modeling, architectural invention of technology creating reliefs Wall of Remembrance: Ada Rybachuk, Vladimir Melnichenko
Geometric construction the Halls of Farewell: A. Podgorny

 In the second half of 1960s, local authorities initiated the creation of Kiev crematorium. This idea immediately faced the opposition among the architectural community of Kiev: the process of industrial incineration of corpses was associated with the destruction of victim’s bodies after the Nazi massacre at Babi Yar. In those years this tragedy began to be talked over publicly. A competition for creating the first monument at Babi Yar,) involved the artists Ada Rybachuk and Vladimir Melnichenko. Shortly after that these artists became the full-fledged co-authors of the complex of Kiev crematorium in collaboration with the architect Abraham Miletskyj.  This later turned into an uncompromising creative conflict. Rybachuk and Melnichenko rejected the initial project of Miletskyj, who saw the crematorium as a purely functional structure, and offered their own concept of architecture of the crematorium as a therapeutic environment. In order to help participants of a funeral ceremony to cope with a psychological trauma, Rybachuk and Melnichenko developed the idea of ​​the Memory Park with their own landscape design, the monumental Wall of Remembrance and the unique Halls of Farewell. The architecture of these halls had to avoid any association with the industrial process of cremation, which took place inside. Hence, their unique shape. The development of the Halls of Farewell in close collaboration between monumental artists and engineers was the epitome of “scientifically justified artistic consciousness”, which was important for that period. Plastic forms of the Halls of Farewell combined a complicated technical process with an avant-garde artistic thinking, dialectically sublating the opposition between technology and humanities, typical of Soviet 1960’s.

Creative work of Rybachuk and Melnichenko tended to the utopian practices of a total work of art (Gesamtkunstwerk). Exactly this kind of art they tried to embody in the project of the Memory Park on the Bajkova Hill. A monumental Wall of Remembrance was supposed to be the central element of this park: more than two hundred square meters of artistic reliefs, which would be passed by funeral processions. This wall with its numerous authors’ reliefs also had to perform a therapeutic function for the participants at the funeral. Its figurativeness – from the myth of Prometheus to World War II and post-war reconstruction also had to distract the mind of the visitors of crematorium from their grief focusing their attention on global confrontations of the human history.

The development of the Wall of Remembrance lasted for more than 10 years, but in early 1982, when its reliefs were almost finished, the party leadership gave the order to eliminate this work. All Reliefs were concreted. A technical opportunity to remove this layer of concrete remains to this day, but the city officials still do not dare to reverse the effects of vandalism.

Research group of the “Superstructure” project – Alex Bykov, Oleksandr Burlaka, and Oleksiy Radynski

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