The 2022 soccer World Cup is shaping up to be the most controversial in history. The Qatari organizers face persistent accusations they paid bribes to win the tournament. Doctors warn that the players won’t be able to cope with the searing summer temperatures. And, worst of all, the stadia themselves are soaked in blood. the Guardian reported last year that hundreds of workers have died during the building process.
To ensure that the last scandal doesn’t get forgotten in the pre-tournament build-up, the 1week1project design firm has come up with a towering memorial (or, at least, the renderings for such). It’s a simple idea: a structure composed of mammoth concrete blocks, one for each worker who’s perished so far.
At last count, that’s about 900 blocks, though the hypothetical building will probably continue to climb. The workers are all from Nepal and India, which doesn’t seem to count for much in the eyes of the local authorities. The workers, paid a pittance, have been called “modern-day slaves” because of the conditions they work under (most of the deaths are from heart attacks in the searing heat). And, critics say Qatar has done little to reform its procedures since the death toll was first reported.
In fact, Sylvain Macaux, one of the designers, says the project’s inspiration wasn’t so much the initial revelations. It was the rather blasé attitude of some towards the news. The celebrity architect Zaha Hadid said she was more concerned about the situation in Iraq, and that workers aren’t really relevant to architects anyway. “I have nothing to do with the workers,” she told the same newspaper. “I think that’s an issue the government, if there’s a problem, should pick up.”
“We knew that these kind of things were happening there, but the fact that one of the most [famous] architects in the world had such words made us react. This is how we express ourselves: with spontaneous architecture,” Macaux told Co.Exist.
“It’s sad because these construction sites [get a lot of media attention] and they’re an opportunity for architects and their partners to show the world we can do nice work together,” he adds.
It’s unlikely the tower will ever receive financing, let alone building permission. But 1week1project’s ideal location would be “in the desert but not to far from the city, around Doha.” That way, there would be plenty of space and the tower would be near the city’s existing skyline.
If workers continue to die at the current rate, the building would be over one mile high by kick-off. “We are not able to judge Qatar’s politics, but we’re quite sure that, unfortunately, workers will still be dying there,” Macaux says.