The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded in 1946, at the end of the World War II, with the aim of promoting peace, scientific co-operation and cultural exchange. In 1995 UNESCO celebrated its 50th anniversary.
On recommendation from the Director General Federico Mayor it was decided to commemorate the milestone anniversary by creating a space for meditation at the organisation's headquarters in Paris. It would be a place to contemplate a world without conflict and with lasting peace between nations regardless of religious, ethnic, cultural or historical differences.
The seat is a famous modern building designed by Marcel Breuer that owns works by Picasso, Giacometti and other artists inside and outside.
Design and meaning
The structure consists of a cylinder of reinforced concrete. In keeping with its name and purpose, the space communicates a sense of solemnity and serenity.
An integral part of the building was to be a chilling reminder of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. With the co-operation of the city, granite slabs that had been exposed to radiation were reclaimed and then used for the flooring and the base of the pool.
To this day, ethnic and religious conflicts feeds war in all regions of the globe. According to the wishes of those that commissioned this work, this area for contemplation would be a symbol of peace and a place in which visitors were able to feel at one with the world.
It is basically a small and simple, cylindrical space in the courtyard. The concrete cylinder is six meters in diameter and height. Light enters this space for just a slit between the wall and the roof floating circular.
The arrival to the cylinder is made through a gateway into the pond above the water, giving a sense of suspension. On the ground and in the bottom of the pond are stones that have suffered the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
This is an abstract space that suggests loneliness and spiritual freedom. Nature has a key role in this work. Ando used architecture as a mediator between the natural environment and man, and find the direct meeting between them. Light, water and air are essential to the idea of Ando, evoking the natural world.