The competition invited proposals for two buildings: a memorial museum and a research center. The two buildings are planned to be built on two sides of the Sarajevo International Airport, since the famous tunnel was dug exactly under the airport, with entrances and exits on both sides.
Currently, a section of c. 20 meters is preserved and open to the public, as part of an exhibition opened immediately after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended. The competition brief asked for structures that can facilitate the tunnel’s growing popularity, preserve the authenticity of the location and bring additional symbolical value to the site.
The memorial museum and the accompanying research center are designed to preserve and commemorate a structure of profound significance, but also to create a space that can meet the complex demands of the existing memorial site..
The two buildings, separated by the Sarajevo airport, 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, with green roofs. In this way, they appear as lifted layers of soil. This mirrors the fact that earth played an essential role in the process of making the original tunnel: enormous heaps of earth were taken out and deposited next to the exits and entrances, and trenches were made to ensure a safer passage.
To accentuate the underground content, both the museum and the research center gradually descend into the earth and towards the authentic buildings, still standing on the sites. The authentic remains of the tunnel can be reached via the exhibition spaces, which continue to descend gradually into the earth. With an argument that memorial architecture on authentic sites (with original structures) needs to be moderate and symbolically tailored for the specificities of a given topic, new structures aim to enhance the sense of place and, at the same time, serve as transitional space towards the main subject.