Tipping Point: When reason becomes repression and an idea overtakes reality, the tipping point is what turns light to darkness and darkness to light.

The team of PLANT Architect Inc. and artists Blue Republic, with historian Eric Beck Rubin is one of six shortlisted teams invited to participate in Canada’s National Victims of Communism Memorial in Ottawa. One of the hallmarks of Communist regimes is the zealous construction of monuments to Communism, from epic-scale constructions to the insidious renaming of cities and streets. Communist regimes stained the nature of the conventional memorial and we believe it is unreasonable to commemorate this historical tragedy and trauma with the same types of monuments, architecture and design that previous regimes used as forms of propaganda. To our team, the key question of this competition was how to make a memorial within a context that calls into question the value of memorials, as we have known them.

Tipping Point comprises five elements which together narrate the journey from Victim to Refuge along the axis from the National Archives (our seat of collective memory), to the Supreme Court (our seat of justice) – a journey of engagement and revelation: The Knot, an 11.3 m tall bronze sculpture; the Processional entry and bronze Ribbon of Names; The Ring, the arena and main gathering space; and The Garden of Nations contemplative garden

The Communist system’s stranglehold on societies it dominated is represented by the Knot: the symbol of control but also the breaking point, of resistance and survival, of suffering and solidarity, imprisonment and freedom, of breaking free of bondage, through its physical, conceptual, and figurative tension. Rope is a universal metaphor – something ordinary and useful that can also be employed in other ways we are all familiar with – a device of detainment and torture.

View toward the National Library & Archives to the west
View toward the National Library & Archives at dusk

The Ring is carved into the topography of the park and shapes a powerful bowl-like, embracing space for ceremonies – it is a theatre, arena, and agora – a crucible overlooked by the Knot. It evokes community, solidarity and unity, but resounds with the memory of how those qualities were perverted in precisely these spaces. The space is an embodiment of the fine line between the two.

The Garden of Nations is a contemplative woodland garden with scattered stone erratics. The Canadian community of each country that has or is suffering under a totalitarian Communist regime will be invited to contribute a boulder of a characteristic stone or geology representing their country so as to found this new stone in Canada. Each stone will be engraved with the country name. The richness of the stones from around the world reinforces the cultural richness that these victims have brought to Canada.

View looking south to Wellington Street from the Meadow Garden
View from Wellington Street at night
Winter view along Wellington Street looking west

The Processional Entry rises upward, dramatizing the entry into the Ring, and carries the park dedication and meaning cast into the 30m long side wall: This Memorial is dedicated to the multitudes who have suffered under Communist regimes, and to those who found refuge in Canada. The Ribbon of Names – a single line of 1000 names – runs as a solemn handrail along the top and continues into and around the Ring, surrounding visitors with a thousand witnesses to the ceremonies in the Ring.

Aerial view of the site from the southeast
The Knot

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Garden
  4. Airdrie Road Residence
  5. Albany Avenue Residence
  6. Alcina Garden
  7. Alexandra Park
  8. Aporia Records
  9. Ardwick Townhouses
  10. Asphalt Poetry
  11. – Poem
  12. Baby Point Gardens
  13. Beach Garden
  14. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  15. Beaty Residence
  16. Bennington Hts Garden
  17. Bennington Hts Ravine Garden 1
  18. Berkeley Street Residence
  19. Bin-Scarth Garden
  20. Blink and you miss it.
  21. – Poem
  22. Block 22 Landscape
  23. Bloor St. Apartment
  24. Blue Note
  25. Booth Avenue Residence
  26. Boustrophedon Garden
  27. Braemore Gardens Residence
  28. Brahms Townhouses
  29. Browning Avenue Residence
  30. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  31. Camp Arowhon Offices
  32. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  33. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  34. Chocolate Loft
  35. City Instrument
  36. Clarendon Garden
  37. Conversation Piece
  38. Cortleigh Boulevard Garden
  39. Creemore Farm
  40. Danforth Mosaic BIA Master Plan
  41. Dickson Park Garden
  42. Dilworth Residence
  43. Don Landing Revitalization
  44. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  45. Duncanwoods Townhouses
  46. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  47. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  48. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  49. Eglinton Ave. Forecourt
  50. Eglinton Park Master Plan
  51. Elizabeth Fry Society
  52. Ellsworth Residence
  53. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  54. First Avenue Garden
  55. First Avenue Residence
  56. Flyover Canada
  57. Foote’s Pond Wood
  58. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  59. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  60. Global Affairs Monument
  61. Goldring Landscape, University of Toronto
  62. Gormley Garden
  63. Governor's Bridge Lookout
  64. Greener P
  65. Greer Road Garden
  66. Greer Road Residence
  67. Guelph Bridge
  68. Head in the Clouds
  69. Helena Ave Residence 4
  70. Jackman Institute of Child Study
  71. Jean Tweed Addition + Laneway House
  72. Junction Craft Brewery
  73. Kelpies Competition
  74. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  75. King's Landing Apartment
  76. Kipling & Islington Developments
  77. Lakeport Beach Neighbourhood
  78. Le jardin du repos
  79. Lenticular Curtain
  80. Leslie Slip Lookout Park
  81. Liberty Village Parkettes
  82. Liza’s Garden
  83. Lynwood Garden
  84. Macroscape
  85. Makwa Waakaa'igan
  86. Markham Garden One
  87. Markham Street Residence Two
  88. Massey College Landscape Restoration
  89. May Street Ravine
  90. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  91. Montreal Holocaust Memorial Competition
  92. Mount Dennis Parkettes
  93. Mulock Park
  94. Nathan Phillips Square
  95. – Streetscape
  96. – Peace Garden
  97. – Podium Roof Garden
  98. Octane Medical Campus
  99. Orchard View Garden
  100. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  101. Owl Cottage
  102. Paperstone Scissors
  103. Pendrith Residence
  104. Peripheral Sitings
  105. Pottery Road Crossing
  106. rare
  107. Ravine Forecourt
  108. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  109. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  110. Roxborough Garden One
  111. Roxborough Garden Two
  112. Schulich School of Business
  113. Sheridan College
  114. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  115. Spadina Quay Wetland
  116. St. Anne's Road Garden
  117. St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts
  118. Stratford Market Square Competition
  119. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  120. Superkids Dental
  121. Superlegible
  122. Sweet Farm
  123. Sweet Farm Pond House
  124. Swift Medical Offices
  125. The Meadows Reconsidered
  126. The Red Sash
  127. Thick & Thin
  128. Thistletown II Townhouses
  129. Tipping Point
  130. TMU Centre for Urban Innovation
  131. TMU Science Building
  132. Tranby Garden
  133. Tree House Residence
  134. UBC Okanagan – The Commons
  135. UHN Tunnels
  136. University of Toronto Mississauga Welcome Centre
  137. Venice Biennale 2012
  138. Vermont Square Park
  139. Vernon Avenue Garden
  140. Walk the Walk
  141. Walmer Road Residence
  142. Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial
  143. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  144. Wells Street Residence
  145. Westminster Residence
  146. Weston Village BIA Masterplan
  147. With Words as Their Actions
  148. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  149. Woven Stories
  150. Wynford Drive Residences
  151. York Park
  152. Yorkwoods Townhouses