The lives of more than 1,800 people of African descent buried at The Contrabands and Freedman’s Cemetery carried with them multiple religious and cultural traditions. Our design combines many of these traditions to create a reflective and powerful experience.

From Africa, the proposed design draws on the cemetery as a wild place visited along a specific route. We strengthened the entrance by raising the ground around it with rich soil from which a robust forest can regenerate. We have provided no interior lighting to respect the nighttime character of the site.

From the Americas, our landscape uses the power of symbols and mounds drawn upon the land. We rested a sculpture depicting a sleeping ancestor in the center of the western concrete foundation floor. A native plant meadow with meandering paths that can be mown for large events bridges the distance between the memorial and a second growth forest.

From the United States, we propose an arboretum of trees where visitors may wander and reflect on the lives of their ancestors. These trees extend across the site at multiple canopy levels to quietly blanket the land from the busy highway to the south.

The design weaves multiple beliefs fluidly and without contradiction. While its geometry and concept are fundamentally strong, the plan is simple and open to modification by stakeholders.

Drawing Key:
A. Interior Perspective
B. Section through Sculpture and Pergola
C. Site Plan
D. Section/Elevation through Main Path
E. Elevation of Main Entry