David Adjaye leads the Cherry Groce Memorial in Brixton, south London. The new pavilion also now forms a centrepiece for a wider programme of learning, led by the Cherry Groce Foundation, which features a digital platform that integrates with the memorial experience.
Cherry Groce was an innocent mother who was shot in her home in 1985, in the Brixton area of south London, by the city’s Metropolitan Police.
The incident sparked the 1985 Brixton riots, while Cherry was left paralysed and later passed away as a direct result of these injuries in 2011. This new memorial pavilion – designed by Adjaye Associates for the Cherry Groce Foundation – coincides with the 35th anniversary of the shooting, and offers a new urban and civic focal point amidst Brixton’s historic Windrush Square.
The design serves as both a public memorial and a community pavilion, and complements the existing layout and features of Windrush Square, including the neighbouring African and Caribbean War Memorial. The new memorial’s canopy speaks of protection and shelter, while the use of a single column symbolises Cherry’s strength and her support for the local community. Throughout, the triangular language echoes the mountains of West Africa and Jamaica – Cherry’s roots – while the new lawns, planting and integrated benches welcome the public’s engagement.
This architectural purity and simplicity is achieved through a delicately balanced structure, and belies the engineering complexity of realising such an extreme cantilever with such apparent weight. The turning forces within the cantilever are in fact minimised by optimising the internal geometry of the precast units; AKT II’s computational team produced the structural concept and then leveraged the company’s deep understanding of fabrication techniques to develop the required, bespoke connections and fabrication process. The concrete elements are heavily reinforced with steel to accommodate the remaining forces.
While the resulting form appears to defy gravity, it in fact works very hard to do so.
The project promotes public awareness and understanding of the life and experience of Cherry Groce and her family, while also offering a place for reflection on wider issues of justice, community and reconciliation. The new memorial also now forms a centrepiece for a wider programme of learning, led by the Cherry Groce Foundation, which features a digital platform that integrates with the memorial experience.