New Concordia Island by Alexander Laing
and Francesco Matteo Belfiore


Sunken cruise ship the Costa Concordia would be transformed into a watery memorial garden in this competition-winning conceptual design by London architecture graduates Alexander Laing and Francesco Matteo Belfiore.

New Concordia Island by Alexander Laing and Francesco Matteo Belfiore

The cruise liner fatally struck a rock off the coast of Giglio Island, Italy, on 13 January, causing the deaths of 30 passengers and becoming the largest passenger ship in history to capsize. A year on, the ship is still in place awaiting a £250 million salvage operation.

The competition, organised by research platform ICSplat, asked architects and designers to come up with alternative proposals for the site, as part of a strategy to reassess how new landscapes can be developed amongst the remains of a traumatic event.

New Concordia Island by Alexander Laing and Francesco Matteo Belfiore

Architectural Association graduates Laing and Belfiore were awarded first place with their proposals, which suggest removing the 35 percent of the boat that rises above the water and adding plants inside the remaining compartments of the former rooms. "The fragment immersed becomes the container of new activities and crossings of the ship among paths, tanks of water and surfaces planted," explain the designers.

Two floating pathways would lead out across the water to create a route for visitors from the coast of the island to the surface of the memorial.

New Concordia Island by Alexander Laing and Francesco Matteo Belfiore

Second place was given to Italian studio Vulmaro Zoffi with designs to generate an artificial reef as a habitat for marine species, while third prize was shared between Francesco Tonnarelli and Andrea Cippitelli of Italy and Architectural Association graduate Wynn Chandra.

The proposals come just over a year after two memorial fountains opened on the site of the former World Trade Centre. Watch a movie about the plans for the 9/11 site here.

See all our stories about memorials »

  • Vincent

    I’m in fear of this idea turning into a big pile of rubbish and pollution. Corrosion, algae, accumulation of floating plastics, maintenance of the garden, keeping illegal adventurous divers away, theft of metals and so on. Maintaining a memorial of this size costs a lot.

    Please get that thing out of the water and use the steel for something memorable or something like that.

    • Chris

      It’s only a bloody concept; the company’s not actually going to give up an entire cruise ship just to humour two architectural graduates. Jeez, invite a bit of whimsy into your life.

  • Mario

    I agree with Vincent, although I like the approach. But indeed, too much risk for the environment and the risk for yet another cruise ship to bump into it.

  • I also like the approach. I would personally leave the ship where it is. I agree with the project, nevertheless I perfectly understand it is far from being realistic.

  • Scott W

    I think this is a fantastic concept; it is an incredibly creative way to produce something good from an unfortunate disaster. Although I agree that the execution of this project would be very difficult, and would probably end up being very expensive, it is doable without harming the environment.