Date of Submission
Bachelor of Architecture
To my ancestors. Imagine the British raiding your homeland in the middle of the night… being taken away from your family all to be taken to the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle…being forced on a dark ship, stacked on top of another flesh, praying to God to survive the long voyage. Gracefully, you reach landfall, only to be examined and sorted, to have your last name stripped away from you…seeing the sick woman that lied next you on the voyage, be dumped into the Atlantic Ocean and left to drown…being forced to build the underground barracks, that you would live prisoned to until it was your time to travel the underground tunnels…you reach the slave auction in Johnson Square.
Imagine your life being sold all for the trade of gold or ivory. Imagine your world in the darkness of their reality.
These cold, dark, wet tunnels lie just beneath the city of Savannah, GA These tunnels are a part of a horrific wound that can no longer be ignored.
So, why are these tunnels so important? Imagine the city being a metaphor for the human body. Metaphorically, the tunnels, are the “nerves”. Economically they allowed the city, to function efficiently. At the same time, they were a place of solitary confinement for the enslaved. After only five days in solitary confinement, the psychological framework of a human being is destroyed. These tunnels were devices used to remake the human being. They were devices that aided in their departure from Africa, as well as a ceremonial gateway into the New.
My thesis seeks to shed a new light on this ceremonial gateway which is situated along the Savannah River by inverting the city’s urban fabric and peeling back the skin to rediscover the nerves.
Now, imagine yourself walking down the streets of downtown Savannah, where the pavement is peeling away in transition, revealing this disruption and these very dungeon-like tunnels, a well-choregraphed memorial depicting the very essence of the enslaved as if it was present day. This Memorial shall become an experience transcending time and place locally, domestically, and internationally.
We must never forget. This project interrogates and pays homage to those people… the slaves who suffered and died in Savannah.
I agree with David Adjaye when he said "…you have to make [slavery] apart of what you are… The act has happened. History has happened. You can't remove that…"
Harrell, Olivia, "Remembering a Hidden Space: Stitching Memorial Architecture with a Subterranean Tunnel System of the Slave Trade" (2021). Bachelor of Architecture Theses - 5th Year. 169.