elii [oficina de arquitectura]


029 · Letters for Heaven

Device for Mourning


Monument "Letters for Heaven" for Alicia Framis

This monument is situated in an open space and its purpose is that of allowing people to say farewell to their loved ones. The goal of the piece is to create an intimate space where to write a letter and say farewell to one’s dearly departed.

The piece is a cylinder made up of twelve vertical ribbons (one for each month of the year) which are in constant movement. Each ribbon consists of a chain of letterboxes with a mirror-like surface rotating slowly, each at a different speed, reflecting light both inside and outside.

The structure consists of three thirteen-sided regular polygon horizontal rings 1.60m long, which serve as axes for the rotation mechanism. The rings are stabilized by crosses that create a light structure, making the most of the cylindrical shape. At one end, the rings surrounding the cylinder and the crosses are interrupted to make room for sliding doors, the leaves of which hide behind the ribbons when opened. The intimate inside space is isolated from the outside by means of a fabric that envelops it and hides the inside mechanisms.

The structure extends both in the lower and upper parts, to lift the piece in off the floor and allow for the rotation of the letterboxes. On the uppermost section of each chain there is a small neon sign with the name of each month, one for each ribbon. Together they give the interior a soft lighting at night. On the other hand, each letterbox has a day of the month written on it. By way of this simple code, the user can easily locate the ribbon (month) and the letterbox (day) corresponding to the date his or her loved one died.

The design of the ribbons is conditioned by the rotation of the letterboxes, giving the piece a sponge-like feel, by means of a 60cm thick chamber where the mechanical elements, such as the ribbon motors and the door rails are placed.


1. Flashes: negation. The work is exposed in an open space. The spectator, when passing by, contemplates a vibrant envelope of 5.3 meters high that emits incessant flashes. As he approaches, he discovers an animated cylinder, composed of 12 vertical bands that form 12 chains of mailboxes finished in a specular material, turning slowly from top to bottom, at different rhythms, catching his attention. He faces the piece.

2. Access: fear. The access is located in one side: an opening that covers the whole height of the piece and completes the cylindrical envelope by means of a large double door that opens automatically when detecting the presence of the visitor, inviting him to enter. On the threshold, he needs to face fear and sadness.

3. Accompaniment: acceptance. The exterior of the artifact contrasts with the interior, where the walls shelter an intimate space. The slow but incessant movement of the mailboxes silently accompanies the visitor. A fabric covers the perimeter, hiding the mechanisms and building an atmosphere of recollection.

4. Letter: farewell. The upper part is open, allowing you to contemplate the sky that crowns the space. Inside, there is a small and light table where you can write a farewell letter. To complete the farewell, all you need to do is close the envelope and wait for the mailbox with the date of the anniversary of the death to pass and send the letter.

5. Exit: future. Once the letter is sent, the mourning device is abandoned to go back to everyday life, to establish new attachments after the farewell. Meanwhile, the bands, the cards and the farewells will continue rotating.

  • Architects:
  • elii - Uriel Fogué, Eva Gil, Carlos Palacios
  • Team:
  • Enrico Forestieri
  • Artist:
  • Alicia Framis
  • Area:
  • 21,00 m2
  • Date:
  • 2008
  • Location:
  • Caixa Forum, Madrid