Tsunami Memorial

DESIGN TEAM: Raveevarn Choksombatchai, Principal Designer/Architect, Will Oren, Assistant Designer, Suthida Cheunkarndee, Assistant Designer, Dong Suh, Assistant Designer, Andy Shanken, Historian Consultant
In contrast to the magnitude and monumentality of the catastrophe, the proposal seeks a humble state of recognition. Through direct empirical discovery of the self in nature, the design intends to embrace the nature of existing site conditions both at programmatic and physical level. Programmatically, the design proposes new development of park trails as major elements of the memorial. Along the path, the landscape conjures up the experience of moving through the verdant foliage, among rubber plantations and bamboo groves carefully cultivated as climatic screens, and visual foils to the "recitation" rooms. The skin of the museum building expresses the ways in which architecture and the climatic conditions of its context are in dialogue. Using a digital tool to record wind direction, wind load, and rainfall, the microclimate not only informs the orientation and placement of the architecture, but also it is registered onto the outer lattices, woven more densely where more stress is put on the surface. The roof surfaces of the inner bridge-like box enclosure visually register the amount of rainfall through surface deformation experienced both from inside and outside. This topological deformation further expresses the special conditions of its natural setting, recording in its form and on its surface the pressures, stresses, and strains of wind and rain, those natural forces that constantly act upon buildings.

While the tragedy of the tsunami defies memorialization, commemorative practice offers solace in the face of loss, succor amidst chaos. We intentionally propose a gentle recasting of memorial conventions: discrete sites of contemplation modestly submit to the power of the land itself . A path to intimately scaled outdoor rooms, randomly dispersed in the densely forested topography, leads circuitously to the proposed educational center/museum building. In contrast to the magnitude and monumentality of the catastrophe, the proposal seeks a humble state of recognition. Through direct empirical discovery of the self in nature, the path reveals both the horrors of natural catastrophe and the immeasurable humanitarian effort in the aftermath. Architecture frames nature and human nature in its dialectic of destruction and renewal. The design intends to embrace the nature of existing site conditions both at programmatic and physical level. Programmatically, the design proposes new development of park trails as major elements of the memorial. These trails are provided as public network system within the National Park for its access and use as recreational site as well as alternative route connecting the highway to the Andaman Sea. Presently, the site is rarely used by general public because of the lack of generous park trails.

Recitation Rooms: Along the path, the landscape conjures up the experience of moving through the verdant foliage, among rubber plantations and bamboo groves carefully cultivated as climatic screens, and visual foils to the "recitation" rooms. These rooms are constructed of translucent concrete embedded with matrices of optical fibers. These pixilated light patterns create a text recording the date and time of the catastrophe in thirty-eight languages spoken by people whose lives were affected by this disaster and who joined together in the humanitarian effort. Together they form a path that connects the land to the Andaman Sea.

Siting:  An act of a path through the forest slowly clear the space to make room just enough for gathering, the path distends to become architecture. Situated within the mid-range canopy of the forest, the architecture registers climatic vectors through its orientation and its strategic siting across the ravine, the natural drainage channel. Approachable from either the land or the ocean, it frames the views from both directions. In order to minimize the effect of the building on the surrounding environment, the building is floating off the ground, such that it leaves as small a footprint as possible on the natural landscape. It is imperative that the building be as lightweight as possible in order to achieve structural efficiency as well as the aesthetic vision of a floating structure- inconspicuous amongst its natural surroundings.

Architecture: The architecture is composed of two main structure elements; the steel lattice structures and a bridge-like box enclosure. The steel lattice structures, emulate the immediate surrounding landscape, the tangled bamboo groves provide a transition into the bridge-like structure. Here the lattice enclosures house all the spaces of movement as extensions of the park trails"intermediaries between the building and its natural setting, screening the inner "bridge-like box enclosure." This inner sanctum holds all programmatic spaces and is supported by an arch, which provides the optimal balance between an efficient structural system and an aesthetically floating form. The arch allows for a very flexible floor plan with varying floor elevations and double height ceiling spaces. Each program fluctuates at different elevations within the enclosure and are connected by ramps and walkways extended from the steel lattice. This arrangement permits a visually lightweight secondary structure; a simple contrast to the relatively complex natural environment. The shadow outline of the arch seen through the translucent curtain-wall both during the day and at night.

Traces of Evidence: The skin of the building expresses the ways in which architecture and the climatic conditions of its context are in dialogue. Using a digital tool to record wind direction, wind load, and rainfall, the microclimate not only informs the orientation and placement of the architecture, but also it is registered onto the outer lattices, woven more densely where more stress is put on the surface. The roof surfaces of the inner bridge-like box enclosure visually register the amount of rainfall through surface deformation experienced both from inside and outside. This topological deformation further expresses the special conditions of its natural setting,recording in its form and on its surface the pressures, stresses, and strains of wind and rain, those natural forces that constantly act upon buildings. The surface wrinkles and warbles, making art of erosion, reminding us of its awesome power and the human predicament and paradox of honoring nature, fighting nature, and forgetting and finding ourselves in it.

Engineering Team: Ove Arup, San Francisco, California, USA: Eric Ko, Principal Structural Engineer, Lawrence Chambers, Associate Principal Structural Engineer, Reid Senescu, Structural Engineer, Mechanical Engineering: Peter Alspach, Associate Principal, Mechanical Engineer Environmental Engineer, Maurya McClintock, Associate Principal, Fa"ade Engineer/Sustainable Assessment

Museum Specialist: Ann Frank Farrington, Museum and Exhibition Specialist

Local Architects/Engineers: Plan Architect Co., Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand: Sinn Phonghanyudh, Project Manager, Suchart Bhaeddee, Tearnchit Soontornsaratoon

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Building Activity

  • Katerina Vaseva
    Katerina Vaseva updated 90 media, added 2 digital references and uploaded 8 media
    joox 127964208810planlibrarylevel1000x748 ehlm 127964209211plangallerylevel1000x735 wwmc 127964209612planravinelevel1000x747 uups 127964210013longitudinalsection1000x746 xphy 127964210314crosssection1000x746 kold 127964210715elevation1000x771 stob 127964211216sectionthroughlattice1000x738 vhkw 127964211517skindetails1000x737
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com