The commission tasked with deciding the future of the site has determined that the Grenfell Tower tragedy should be commemorated with a lasting memorial that reaches high into the sky. However, the building itself cannot continue in its current state indefinitely.
The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission has released a report to the affected individuals and community members, stating that a lasting memorial should honor the 72 individuals who lost their lives in the June 2017 fire. The report emphasizes the importance of ensuring that their names are included, as a way to ensure that the world will never forget the tragedy.
However, following over four years of discussions, the commission has raised concerns about the possibility of the damaged building staying visible on the west London horizon, as a symbol of systemic shortcomings that resulted in the fire.
The future of the 1970s council tower block is outlined in its plan as “extremely delicate.” The decision will ultimately be made by the government, which currently has control of the site.
There are residents who would rather see the tower removed, as they believe it has a negative effect on the mental well-being of children living in the area.
The government’s engineers have issued a warning about the damage to the structure, specifically above the 10th floor. However, the commission states that it is capable of conducting its own evaluations in order to determine potential solutions. One potential solution could involve including elements of the structure in the memorial or monument, such as the 14 pillars and the concrete roof crown that support the tower.
The panel is headed by Lord Boateng, a past member of the Labour government, and Thelma Stober, a lawyer who was hurt in the 7 July 2005 terrorist attacks in London. It consists of individuals from the Grenfell community.
The report, which is 50 pages long and was shared with the community on Friday, suggests that the potential use of the Grenfell Tower structure or components in the memorial should be determined based on its feasibility. The commission also advises that future memorial designs take into consideration the building’s height and visibility. They encourage a creative approach to achieving this, such as utilizing light or other methods to give the illusion of height.
The cover of the document, titled “Remembering Grenfell: suggestions and plans for a memorial”, features columns of light radiating upwards around the tower that is currently standing.
The commission emphasized that the matter of the tower’s fate is still a significant challenge. They stated that in the upcoming months, it will be necessary for everyone to come together and find a way to respect the concerns of all parties involved.
The commission’s plan has shed more light on additional components of the site’s future. It suggests the establishment of a garden, in addition to a monument and a shelter for visitors to seek refuge from inclement weather.
The commission stated that the garden ought to be a hallowed and tranquil space for recalling and contemplating, both personally and collectively, those whom we have lost.
The act of planting should symbolize “progress and rejuvenation as a way to honor and remember” while a structure or piece of art should be incorporated to “invoke togetherness, affection, optimism, sorrow, and those who have left us.”
There needs to be a designated area for individuals to privately express their grief and mourn. The memorial could also incorporate a space for the unidentified remains of those who perished in the tower, which are currently in possession of the coroner.
The design should embody the diverse collection of religions and cultural heritages present in the Grenfell community, while also acknowledging the tragedy of losing children in the disaster. It is suggested that a separate museum and archive could be located in another area of London.
In the upcoming spring, the commission will release a design proposal for architects, landscape designers, and artists. The selection process for these professionals will take place in the summer, with a final winner being chosen by the end of 2024.
The commission is determined to have the memorial complex maintained by the royal parks in the long run, despite construction not beginning until at least 2026. The complex should be planned to discourage activities like dog walking that do not align with its purpose, and it should not become a popular spot for tourists.
The report concludes that the designs for the memorial must ensure that the world will always remember the tragedy that our loved ones and community experienced.