FINALIST E: LIGHTING THE VOID
The Tsunami Museum and the Tsunami Memorial are distinct, yet related elements engaging the whole site: the ocean and the land.
Light is the primary expression of the design. The memorial is a field of lights floating on the oceans surface and the museum wraps the road with a graceful glass wall. Both the memorial and the museum glow warmly at night and sparkle with refracted color during the day.
The rationale for separating the memorial and the museum architecture is to better engage the whole site and make this holistic experience available to visitors; but also, it is to avoid the problems of architecture-as-symbol and memorial-as-architecture. Relinquishing the need for overt symbolism the architectural form of the museum is able to do justice to the purpose and function of the building. Similarly, freed from functionalism, the memorial can fully engage with the symbolic dimensions of this project. As separate elements the museum and the memorial can each be sited in locations best suited to their specific needs.
In our view the museum is best sited near the road for ease of construction and servicing, and to minimize environmental impact. This is a fragile and valuable piece of remnant rainforest connected to a larger ecosystem and to cut far into it with the museum and associated infrastructure is (globally) unacceptable. Located on the road, the museum is also not hidden away and thus becomes part of the daily, passing life of the region.
The location for the tsunami memorial is the ocean itself. While being inextricably linked with the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods, the ocean also has qualities of meditative calm and sublime beauty. The ocean memorial invites reflection on these different qualities of nature and the path to the memorial choreographs the visitors journey of remembrance.
By engaging the whole site this design establishes the conditions for a profound and beautiful meditation on the natural world and our place within it.