Smritivan earthquake museum
Vinay Panjwani

Smritivan earthquake museum

Vastushilpa Sangath LLP (vastushilpa consultants) as Architects

The museum is located in Bhuj, Gujarat, India on the bhujiyo hill. The museum is a part of the larger smritivan earthquake memorial masterplan, which was made to commemorate the 2001 earthquake of which Bhuj was the epicentre.The museum anchors its journey in the city of Bhuj and the Kutch region’s unique heritage, culture, crafts, and its many villages and wildlife sanctuaries.

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

The design intent was to create not just a museum but a civic space where the citizens could gather and celebrate their many festivals and more. As with our other projects, we recognise the larger role of such institutions in the making of a city, and ensure that architecture contributes to civic life. The same was true for the Smritivan memorial which also addressed the need for a green lung and park for the city. Programmatically, the various galleries of the museum trace the various crafts and skills of the Kutch region.

photo_credit Vinay Panjwani
Vinay Panjwani

The steep slope of the hill meant one had to find a way to sensitively place a building that does not disturb the landscape. The hill is part of the cultural patrimony of the people. Hence building a large-scale box that would contrast with the hill was considered inappropriate. Rather, the contours inform an alternative approach. It dictated a form that recalls the relic of the fort wall which exists on this hill. The built mass is like a line that traces the contours as it zig-zags its way up the hill. It is the natural way that an animal or human uses to climb a hill, or as a pilgrimage route to a holy site. We, as architects, strongly believe that walking is essential to the making of a place, as it enables us to connect to our surroundings in a unique way. 

photo_credit Sohaib Ilyas
Sohaib Ilyas

The “soul” of the museum is then this slow climb, a peripatetic journey of a 50m climb punctuated by the various galleries. The spine acts like a veranda where one can pause, reflect and absorb the landscape. This tensile structure also creates a soft glow over the monolithic buildings which are covered in a local stone quarried from near the site. Overall, this central spine of the museum a civic space that operates when the galleries aren’t open.

Temporality remains central to the museum. Thus, each of the galleries’ rooftops is planted with different species of local flora which, as in the hill, changes with the seasons and mark the passage of time. These gardens also host different functions such as temporary exhibits and performances, which enables one to reflect and assimilate, something that is essential to such a museum. 

Like most settlements on a landscape, the museum is designed for incremental growth. The modularity of the galleries and the trace of the central spine is such that any extension will always remain aligned to the genius of the place. It is then a settlement, as old as Bhuj, and as young as the memory of the last visit. 

photo_credit Sohaib Ilyas
Sohaib Ilyas

Team:
Architects: Vastushilpa Sangath LLP formerly known as vastushilpa consultants
Other participants: V.R Shah engineers, Jhaveri Associates, Studione23E72N
Photography: Vinay Panjwani, Sohaib Ilyas


Material Used:
1. Facade cladding: Local stone (Khavda)
2. Flooring: Local stone (Khavda)
3. Doors: Aluminium / Brand: Jindal Aluminium limited
4. Windows: Aluminium, Brand: Jindal Aluminium limited
5. Roofing: Tensile fabric / Brand: Formoed wide span structural
6. Interior lighting: External lights, Brand: Neri

Product Spec Sheet

ElementBrand
Doors and Windows: AluminiumJindal Aluminum
Interior lighting: External lightsNeri SpA
Product Spec Sheet
Doors and Windows: Aluminium
Interior lighting: External lights
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