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Innovation & Design

Thailand's Tsunami Memorial Unveiled

An international competition for Thailand's Tsunami Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the devastating December 2004 earthquake and tidal wave, has been won by an unusual-looking project called "Mountains of Remembrance." The plan's five conical towers are inspired by the natural landscape of Thailand's Phang Nga Bay, as well as traditional Asian stupa and pagoda forms. They will be located within the Khao-lak National Park on the southeastern coast, in a forested area overlooking the ocean beaches that were the hardest hit in Thailand by the tsunami. The scheme was presented by the young Spanish architects Ana Somoza and Juana Canet of Disc-o Architecture, Madrid, and their collaborators.

The competition was sponsored by the Thai government and managed by the Council of Architects, the nation's professional association. It attracted 680 entries. A jury selected the winning scheme from among five finalists, with second prize going to a Finnish team, Anu Puustinen and Ville Hara of Avanto Architects.

Somoza and Canet explained that their design seeks to "create an artificial piece of nature integrated in the park." Organized around a "Lagoon Square," the towers will be built of steel tubing and cable with ceramic skins whose characteristics will change according to their exposure to light. The Memorial Tower, covered in natural vegetation, will be the tallest, at 125 feet, with an open interior space for meditation. The other towers will contain a museum, a Warning Center or climate station, an amphitheater, and a restaurant and shop. Participating on the winning team were Tectum Engineers and Thai Architecture design firm, Naga Concepts.

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