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Smriti Van Earthquake Museum & Memorial

In January 2001, a very strong earthquake, with epicentre Bhuj, struck Gujarat, killing about 13,000 people and destroying buildings, temples, villages. It is easy to imagine how such a catastrophe impacts mentally, emotionally and physically on all survivors.  In all these years, Gujarat, which has both large cultivated areas and wilderness areas, has worked to recover from the damage caused by the earthquake, without forgetting the victims, and to commemorate them, in August 2022 what is India's largest memorial and museum was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Designed by the Vastu Shilpa Sangath studio, founded by Balkrishna Doshi, Pritzker Prize 2018, the Smriti Van (which can be translated as Forest of Memories) complex covers a vast area of over 190 hectares and is located on the Bhujiyo Dungar. The memorial is surrounded by the world's largest forest created according to the rules of Akira Miyawaki with over 3,000 plants: a living, breathing monument that also serves as a lung for the city of Bhuj. Every element of it focuses on regeneration, sustainability and hope for a better future. 
The museum and the memorial are powered by a 1.1 megawatt photovoltaic system that produces renewable and self-sustainable green energy, which is intended to be a forerunner for future similar structures. The memorial also has 50 ponds, on which plaques with the names of earthquake victims have been placed, to collect water, and the rocks used in these ponds will be the ground to grow new life from their cracks. 

The Smritivan Earthquake Museum designed and curated by Design Factory India covers an area of 11,500 square metres and comprises 7 different blocks, further divided into sub-tunnels. iGuzzini luminaires have been used in most of the rooms where the lighting atmosphere is intimate to invite meditation and reflection. There are therefore contained illuminance levels and accent lighting well focused on the objects and details to be highlighted. In the entrance hall floodlights View are used for vertical illumination of the walls and in particular of the museum floor plan. Palco Framer projectors illuminate the ‘Pravah’ sculpture. Palco Framer projectors, accompanied by gobos, are used extensively inside the museum for floor projections of both human and dinosaur footsteps. 

In the 'Rebirth' section, one witnesses the history of the Earth's evolution, the emergence of landforms over millions of years and the genesis of the Earth we inhabit. Visitors can get a comprehensive look at the history of the Kutch and Gujarat region. In this section, adjustable Laser recessed luminaires are placed inside the suspended coloured cylinders for accent lighting on the various islands of the exhibition, while the homogenous illumination of the area is provided by View projectors on main voltage tracks on the ceiling. 

In the 'Rediscovery' section, visitors can learn about the reasons for the many natural occurrences in Gujarat, discovering the different geo-physical characteristics of the region. Through interactive models and immersive films, one can see the vulnerabilities of the region, but also the ability of the Gujarat inhabitants to adapt and innovate. 
In the 'Restore' section, the tragic events of the 2001 Bhuj earthquake are recounted, which affected people from all walks of life in one way or another. The immediate rescue and assistance activities that took place are also recounted through the testimonies and memories of the earthquake survivors. In this area, Palco Framer illuminate the ruins and sculptures, while ambient lighting on the walls is provided by Light Up Earth. 

In the 'Rebuilding' section, the collective process of reconstruction and rebirth in Gujarat is explored. It is intended to bear witness to how an authority formed in a matter of weeks ensured timely reconstruction and recovery. Also in this section, the precision of the Palco Framer is used to highlight some of the windows that make up the walls.

In the 'Rethink' section, visitors can learn, through interactive games and activities, how to prepare for global disasters and can learn about India's vulnerability to natural phenomena, the various risks in different geographical areas. Also in this area, there are colourful suspended structures and Palco Framer and gobo create footprints and luminous circles on the ground. 

In the 'Revive' space, perhaps the most powerful experience of the museum visit is lived. Through simulations using the latest technology, visitors are immersed in what happened: the earth shakes beneath their feet and the tremors of the 2001 earthquake can be felt in a very realistic way." Renewal': this gallery is designed to allow visitors to pay tribute to the people who lost their lives in this tragedy, but also to remember the loved ones they lost and to keep them in their memories with a spirit of light. To commemorate them, visitors can light a digital flame on touch panels that will travel through digital LED walls up to the ceiling and then merge into a single light. Also on the floor of this section are projections from gobos mounted on Palco Framer.

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  • Year
  • Client
    GSDMA - Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority
  • Architectural project:
    Studio - Vastushipla Sangath
  • Museum Designer & Curators:
    Design Factory India
  • Photographer
    Bharat Aggarwal