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Washington DC, USA


competition entry


John Karahalios

Elisavet Plaini

“Our hands are earth, our bodies clay and our eyes pools of rain.”

Erich Maria Remarque, 'All Quiet on the Western Front'







World War I Memorial

The Great War, as perceived in collective memory, drew a metaphorical and literal rupture on the world. The landscapes of the battlefields, where deep scars of the war are gradually healing by nature, are the source of inspiration. “Homage to Earth” is a material interpretation of this concurrence; rupture and healing.

The intention is to deliver simultaneously the dual experience of the forceful rupture of earth and its slow healing over time; to compose a meaningful context for human reconciliation with history.



a. A rigorous rupture is inscribed on the land. The trench is the symbol of the war. Descending through the layers of the city one may experience the scarred earth, smell the underground soil, listen to the remote sounds and gaze at the sky.

b. The volume of earth produced by the excavation is rearranged in a mountain. Pillars of rammed earth compose a steep ascending path that leads to the elevated plateau aligned to the axis of the Capitol hill. Visitors appreciate the views over the memorial and the city, while reflecting on history.

c. A promenade bridges Pennsylvania Avenue with E street. The urban hardscape intertwines with natural materials, the same way present time intertwines with the past. The platform brings city life into the site where one can strall, rest or pay respect next to General Pershing’s statue.

d. The existing configuration of Pershing Park is preserved and becomes part of the city’s palimpsest. Nature will embrace it and turn it to a vibrating landscape depicting the sequence of seasons. The poppy fields will narrate the end of the war every spring. Growing nature is the living proof of the process of healing.

The existing site of Pershing Park.

Aerial photo of the trenches during WWI.

The layers of rammed earth in section.

Linear intertwining of different materials.

Landscape of the battlefields in present time.






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