The international competition organized in 2016 invited proposals for two buildings: a memorial museum and a research center to commemorate Sarajevo’s ‘Tunnel of Hope’. The buildings are planned to be built on two sides of the Sarajevo International Airport. Underneath the airport, a clandestine tunnel (officially called Tunnel D-B) was created during the siege of Sarajevo (1992 – 1995) to enable a necessary link between the occupied city and the so called ‘free zone’. The competition brief asked for architecture that can facilitate the tunnel’s growing popularity, preserve the authenticity of the location and bring additional symbolical value to the site.

Selected as the best proposal, the concept design aims to preserve, commemorate and create a meaningful space that will meet demands of the existing memorial site. The two buildings, separated by the airport’s runway, communicate in both their materialization and symbolic meaning. To reflect the tunnel’s history, the outer walls of the new buildings are made of rammed earth. At the time the tunnel was built, earth played an essential role in the process: enormous heaps of soil were taken out and deposited next to the exits and entrances. The earth was then used for both visual and physical protection above the ground. For example, the extracted soil was organized to ensure a safer approach to the tunnel.

To accentuate the underground nature of the tunnel and the relevance of soil, the aesthetic and structural features of the proposed solution reference lifted layers of soil: green roofs, a gradual descend into the earth and the use of rammed earth as a construction material.

Following an argument that memorial architecture on authentic sites needs to be moderate and symbolically tailored for a given context, new structures aim to enhance the sense of place and memorialize the remarkable resilience of people in the face of destruction.