Civic Buildings

The Mass Extinction Monitoring Observatory (MEMO) will comprise a monument
to the world’s extinct species and an adjacent biodiversity education centre. Conceived
as a continuous spiral of stone, it will be carved with images of the 860 species assessed
as extinct since the dodo.

It will be an on-going monument, with more stones added when species become extinct.
The bell of biodiversity, placed in the centre of the monument, will be rung annually on the international day of biodiversity and to mark further species becoming extinct. Sited on the Isle of Portland on the south coast of Britain, each creature will be immortalised in stone along the circular ramp that leads to the top of the 100 foot high Bowers Quarry observatory. Visitors will then walk back down the outside of the ramp to ground level.

A fitting insertion into the landscape, the project presents an opportunity to revitalise
the old Bowers Quarry and to draw attention back to the natural beauty and craftsmanship
of Portland. Rather than a building or shelter, MEMO is devised as a journey, exploring
the relationship between interior and exterior, landscape and enclosure. The circular form resonates with Portland’s three lighthouses near Portland Bill as well as the remains of the windmills at Perryfields to the south east of Weston. The spiralling arrangement is inspired
by a turreted gastropod fossil, found in particular abundance in Bower’s Quarry, the ‘Portland Screw’ (Aptyxiella portlandica). The material palette is predominantly Portland Stone to reinforce a sense of the landscape, echoing the character of part of the cliff with its exposed stone strata. The sizes of the blocks and the rhythm of the joints are alternating with an accent on the horizontal joints, while the surface of the stones is rough - like the face of
a Quarry Block. The development will promote the use of local and recycled material.

MEMO Project

Portland, Current


  • Adjaye Associates


  • MEMO Charity

Total Area

  • 2000m2 (footprint)

Contract Value

  • £15 m
Project Description