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Memorials as Healing Places 1

Memorials as Healing Places

A Matrix for Bridging Material Design and Visitor Experience

Memorials are increasingly used to encourage people to reflect on the past and work through both individual and collective wounds. While much has been written on the history, architectural forms and controversies surrounding memorials, surprisingly little has been done to explore how visitors experience and appropriate them. This paper aims to analyze how different material aspects of memorial design help to create engaging experiences for visitors. It outlines a matrix of ten interconnected dimensions for comparison: (1) use of the vertical and horizontal axis, (2) figurative and abstract representation, (3) spatial immersion and separation, (4) mobility, (5) multisensory qualities, (6) reflective surfaces, (7) names, (8) place of burial, (9) accommodating ritual, and (10) location and surroundings. With this outline, the paper hopes to provide social scientists and practitioners (e.g., architects, planners, curators, facilitators, guides) with a set of key points for reflection on existing and future memorials and possibilities for enhancing visitor engagement with them.


Publication available in open access