Smritivan: A Testament to Resilience and Innovation

India's Largest Memorial Museum Celebrates Human Determination and Local Craftsmanship

Designed by Siddharth Bathla, Smritivan is an earthquake museum and memorial that pays tribute to the resilience of the Kutch region in west India. This immersive, interactive space tells the story of the devastating 2001 earthquake and the region's rapid recovery, embodying universally relatable stories of human determination.

The museum's design is deeply rooted in the unique, thriving culture of Kutch. Drawing inspiration from a nearby 4000-year-old civilization, Smritivan carries forward the timelessness of human resilience. The content design, scenography, and installations are based on and emerge from the rich local living traditions and crafts of the Kutch region.

Smritivan stands out for its collaborative design approach, involving master craftspersons in the creation of vibrant, local crafts that form the scenography. The museum also features a large-scale earthquake simulator, digital homage, and personal stories that bring an emotional connection. To animate the visitor experience, live actors and artists bring the museum journey alive.

The museum is spread over 9200 square meters of indoor and outdoor experience on the Bhujio-Dungar hill. The exhibition space is divided into seven blocks, which are further divided into 27 galleries. Each gallery is 8 meters wide, 12 meters long, and 4.5 meters high, housing a variety of amenities like a library, shop, cafe, auditorium, play area, and temporary exhibition spaces.

Since its inauguration, the museum receives an average footfall of foreign tourists and locals over 100,000 every quarter. Each visitor adds a part of themselves to the museum through digital tributes for quake victims, which collect into a bright beam of light. Smritivan recently hosted India’s first design biennale on the “art of storytelling”.

The project was initiated in 2018, in Bhuj city of Kutch district, Gujarat, after winning an open design competition based on the concept of “eternal resilience”. Following detailed research and design, on-site execution began in 2020. The Smritivan Earthquake Museum and Memorial were inaugurated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India in August 2022.

The design process faced several challenges, including presenting sensitive personal and complex stories of the earthquake and beyond, to evoke varied emotions. Moving from an incident to an overarching story based on the ideas of resilience was pivotal. The 27 similar galleries dealt with an innovative, contextual design strategy for distinct and memorable thematic experiences. Translating the big idea into a physical reality demanded a smart orchestration of various stakeholders.

Smritivan, India's largest memorial museum, is a living testament to human resilience and constant change. An experiential journey along the learnings and memories of the devastating 2001 Gujarat earthquake. Rooted in interpretation and experimentation, over 100 exhibits in 7 thematic blocks are presented as a confluence of local crafts in contemporary design language. Layered experiences from educational scientific content to sensitive personal stories create a memorable impression. Diverse exhibits, immersive environments, and archival memories engage and inspire all visitor age groups.

Smritivan was awarded Silver in A' Interior Space, Retail and Exhibition Design Award in 2023. This prestigious award is rewarded to top-of-the-line, creative, and professionally remarkable designs that illustrate outstanding expertise and innovation. These designs, admired for their strong technical characteristics and splendid artistic skill, showcase a remarkable level of excellence and introduce positive feelings, amazement, and wonder.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: SIDDHARTH BATHLA
Image Credits: Image #1: Photographer Bharat Aggarwal, Smritivan, 2022. Optional Image #1: Photographer Bharat Aggarwal, Smritivan, 2022. Optional Image #2: Photographer Bharat Aggarwal, Smritivan, 2022. Optional Image #3: Illustrator Masood Khan, Smritivan, 2022. Optional Image #4: Photographer Bharat Aggarwal, Smritivan, 2022. Video Credits: Cinematographer Sohaib Ilyas, Smritivan, 2022. Sound Credits: ANBR - Stars, Ardie Son - Come back home, Ardie Son - Tonight is Golden, Smritivan, 2022.
Project Team Members: Creative Director: Siddharth Bathla Design Director: Prashasti Chandra Visual Design: Masood Khan Installation, Scenography: Suryanath Sunny Research,Content: Niharika Joshi Architect: Prashul Sharma Special Artist: Mukul Goyal- Sculptor Special Artist: Vankar Vishram Valji - (weaver shyamjibhai)- weaving Special Artist: Dr. Ismail Khatri- block printing Special Artist: Mukesh Bhanani- kala Raksha Special Artist: Gafur Khatri- Rogan art Special Artist: Paresh Khamir- lacquered artwork
Project Name: Smritivan

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