The Martyrs Memorial

Niamey, Niger

  • Status
  • Area
    4,000 m² / 43,055 ft²
  • Category
    Civic, Culture, Education
  • Design Architect
    Adjaye Associates
  • Client
    City of Niamey
  • Landscape Architect
    Adjaye Associates
  • Sustainability Design
    Steensen Varming
  • Lighting Design
    Steensen Varming

Technical Info +

Through an interplay of absences and voids, the Martyrs Monument becomes a sacred space—an in-between moment for meaningful reflection on the past and a signaling for a peaceful future.

The Martyrs Memorial is a commemoration to all those lost in the fight against terrorism along Niger’s southern and western borders. It is conceived as a monument to the dead, a tangible documentation of the continuous fight against extremist entities and the soldiers who have fallen in the process. Located within the heart of the city, the monument bestows the site with a dedicated memorial, new urban plaza and a multi-use civic gathering space. Established on a raised triangular plot, the design leverages its site to create a gently inclined plane producing a vista that looks out into the city of Niamey.

As visitors approach the memorial, they are engrossed in a labyrinth of abstraction through a rhythmic interplay of light, shadow and geometries amplified by the form of the 20 meter high pillars. Flanked by a grid of trees on both sides that form a shaded canopy, the colonnade becomes a forest, establishing a sacred space that honors the dead and acts in service to the living. Each pillar symbolizes the individual lost, extending towards the Niamey sky whilst grounded and situated in its urban context. At night, beams of light projecting from the pillars become part of the urban skyline, acting as both a beacon of hope and a visual guide toward the civic heart of Niamey. Creating a structure that acknowledges its local Sahelian climate, the ground-level civic space provides a respite from the Niger heat. It is designed for flexibility to allow for multiple uses from the religious to city-organized events. The pillars — emerging from the memorial above — serve as a collective cooling strategy by creating a series of thermal chimneys extracting the heat build up.

The entire structure is comprised of robust materials that both contribute to the sensory affect, as well as practically stand the test of time, requiring minimum maintenance. Concrete, the primary material, and accent materials such as bronze coloured frames and perforated steel panels, add to both the endurance and durability of the structure. Light is curated into this dark space through geometric perforations to the façade creating a sanctuary punctuated by tessellated shadow.