Express & Star

Search launched for ‘specialist and worthy’ design team for Grenfell memorial

There are hopes a planning application could be made in 2027 – 10 years on from the fire.

The memorial hoarding in front of Grenfell Tower

An international search has begun for a “specialist and worthy” team to design a memorial for the site of Grenfell Tower.

Representatives from the local community in west London said the launch of the selection process means the vision for a permanent marker of what happened is “a significant step closer”.

The 72 people who died in the June 2017 blaze deserve nothing less than a “beautiful and lasting memorial”, they added.

A young boy holds a sign saying Respect in front of Grenfell Tower
The design process will have the community at its core, the memorial commission said (Yui Mok/PA)

The aim is to have a final design team selected and announced in spring next year, with hopes that a planning application could be made in 2027 – 10 years on from the fire.

The search for a team has been launched by the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

The commission said the intention is to “create a significant, reflective and impactful memorial” to commemorate what happened “and express the love we have for those we have lost and will remember forever”.

The first part of the selection phase is not expected to result in a fixed or final design proposal, it added, saying it is firstly “crucial to find a team with the best people who can adopt a sensitive and inspiring design approach” while working with the community to develop an “early concept”.

A report from the commission last year set out a series of recommendations for a “sacred space” designed to be a “peaceful place for remembering and reflecting”.

It said the space should include a garden, a monument and a dedicated space for the private expression of grief and mourning for the families who lost loved ones.

Views on the use of parts of the tower in any lasting memorial were mixed, the commission said, with some people feeling they “should form part of the memorial” while “others do not agree”.

The commission recognised it was “hugely difficult area with many different views” and said it will “work through how we can respect the sensitivities on all sides”.

The commission has also previously acknowledged that an exact timeline for developing the memorial depends on outside factors including the Government’s decision on the future of the tower, which remains standing with a green heart at the top.

Deputy Prime Minister Angela Rayner, who is Housing and Communities Secretary, is responsible for decisions on the future of the tower and it is understood no decision has yet been made.

Ms Rayner is believed to be writing to the Grenfell community and hopes to meet them to hear directly from them in her new role.

In a joint statement, the commission’s 10 community representatives, said: “Launching the memorial design team selection process brings us a significant step closer to turning the Grenfell community’s memorial vision into a physical reality.

“Through this process, we intend to identify and appoint a specialist and worthy design team. A team that has proven experience of working on sensitive and community-focused projects, and who can clearly demonstrate the integrity with which they will approach this vital task.

“The beautiful and lasting memorial to our 72 loved ones deserves nothing less.”

Commission co-chairs Thelma Stober and Lord Paul Boateng said: “Our primary commitment as the commission is to establish a dignified and peaceful space for the Grenfell community to commemorate.

“And our fundamental pledge, from the outset, has been to prioritise the voices and wishes of the entire Grenfell community in the decision-making process, both now and in the future.”

Jane Duncan, RIBA’s competitions architect adviser, said the design process will be “a huge challenge” and it will be “a tricky task” to find the right team who can “draw upon their deepest streams of empathy and delicacy”.

She said: “This incredible and unique design team selection process sits naturally on an international stage, just as the tragedy resonated far across the globe.

“I ask all architects and designers, wherever you may be, to consider if you have the right skills and experience in dealing with many and diverse stakeholders, in sensitivity of approach and compassion, as well as the innovation and creativity to interpret and deliver a wonderful design to meet a very personal and touching brief.”

The Government said it is committed to supporting the commission in the creation of the memorial.

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