Road fatalities memorials – a proposal

The act of marking the actual location of violent death performs many functions that cannot be performed by graveyard memorials. This practice generates its own vocabulary, with ‘descanso‘ – meaning resting place in Spanish – deriving from the practice of pallbearers setting down a coffin on the way to the cemetery. Increasingly, descansos have come to symbolize the impact of road death.

desc04.jpgtrans02.jpgTransmission, by George Walker, is a proposal to insert a transmitter into the road at the site of each non-motorist (pedestrians or cyclists) fatality, communicating the name of the person killed and the number of days since they were hit.

The transmitters are powered by a piezoelectric generator using the pressure of the tires rolling over it. This means that the heavier the traffic, the more frequent and powerful the signal. As the motorist drives within the (very short) range of the transmitter, the transmission overlays the message on their car audio or telephone signal. This would also reassert the shared nature of the street.

The fatalities are documented in a memorial website allowing the bereaved to post personal messages. An ambient campaign of pavement stickers raises awareness of the project and the issues it concerns.


Part of the Design for Thought exhibition, Pop Noir selection at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, through 31/01/2006.