Daylight Investigations

Unfinished Memorial


Tian Xu, Anjiang Xu


Nikole Bouchard,

Joseph Moore


Yale University


United States

Unfinished Memorial

Project Description

Completion of construction doesn’t necessarily mean completion of architecture -- architectural impact lasts in many ways longer than humans can presume. The unfinished memorial stands above a deserted oil well in Lenghu, China, to remind us of the past fossil oil exploitation, and of those unknown workers who devoted themselves to this no-man’s land. More importantly, it is an actual act of redemption for the irreversible harm that the oil industry has done to nature, by establishing a healthy cycle of energy restoration through storing and transforming the solar energy. Sunlight, becomes the key that injects vitality into a depleted place, which brings this memorial to its designate finish. As a mediator between energy and matter, phase change material (PCM) can store and release the thermal energy absorbed from sunlight. With its impressing thermal inertia, PCM maintains a relatively constant temperature compared to its surroundings while exchanging a large amount of energy. Carrying this character, PCM performs incredibly in two ways as the infilling material of the unfinished memorial: 1) it plays with the extreme temperature difference in the desert and moderates the micro-climate; 2) the relatively cool surface of the tower captures the moisture in the air and navigates the streams into the well and the pool encompassing it during the daytime, while at night it radiates heat and helps to moisturize the air. As the surroundings of the memorial become tolerable, and the daylight-driven water gradually fills the deserted oil well, the once uninhabitable place is transformed into an oasis plaza for living beings in the Gobi desert. Until then, the unfinished memorial establishes an organic cycle of energy/matter production and restoration, from sunlight to heat, from water to life. That is when it manifests its gesture of never to stop mediating the eternal dialogue between humankind and nature.