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Vastu Shilpa Foundation

Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India-380054

Smriti Van, Public Spaces-[]

Kutch is a dry, arid, desert land. But for over a millenia it has been inhabited by a culturally diverse but rich agrarian and nomadic society. Despite the intense heat, acute scarcity of water an extremely rich craft based culture has sustained itself in this inhospitable terrain. The earth quake memorial or Smriti Van is envisaged as a rejuvenation of this landscape and as a tribute to the extraordinary resilience of the people and their acceptance of the calamity with great equanimity.

The client's brief for the memorial was plantation of 13805 trees, each tree representing one victim. The implication would have been a merely ornate landscape dependent on an external source of energy for sustainability. In essence a convenient but unbefitting tribute to the spirit of the people and their lost ones.

Given the setting of the undulating terrain with an extensive water shed, the vision for Smriti Van was recast as a self sustaining habitat optimising the watersheds through check dam reservoirs which will nourish a mix of trees downstream without any external dependence for energy.

These reservoirs, in essence will become the actual memorials. With plaques commemorating the victims, plinths and plazas for the kith and kin to sit and reminisce and associative deities & festivals to celebrate the cycle of life, death and rebirth. The reservoirs would be the actual anchors of Smriti Van (the memorial ) and the trees auxiliary to them.

For the choice of the trees again the client's mandate was to opt for only one or two local species which would have bred a mono culture. However, for the identity and recognition of each victim as an individual and this diversity to represent a harmonious existence of varied individuals in a community, a mix of tree species ranging from seasonal to fruit bearing to evergreens is proposed. This will ensure blossoming of flowers and fruits through the year. This bio-diverse ecology will attract birds, bees and insects round the year which will result in the cross pollination, hybridization & diversification of the flora and enrich the ecology.

The topography leads to 108 reservoirs - a universally divine number. The levels of the terrain dictates the orientation of the reservoirs such that some are floating above the others, almost arranging themselves as “Astral” and “Terrestrial” along the streams and the trails. The additions of stellae, totems and stairs in these structures reinforce their connections to the cosmos. A bridge between the sacred and the temporal.

To maintain the ecological sanctity, vehicular access in to the memorial is disallowed. All the visitors vehicles are intercepted and parked in the parking plazas at the entrance in both the valley and at the plateau. Within the site, cycle rickshaws are envisaged as mode of transport since they are pollution free, promote community participation and are a means of employment generation. For access to the memorials and trees, pedestrian trails are envisaged.

With the success of watershed management on the site and the ensuing transformation of the landscape into a self - sustaining eco-park, a similar regional impact is envisaged in the surrounding precincts of the same hill system. Eventually, a network of many such eco parks may emerge each focused around an existing large catchment and the entire landscape may dramatically metamorphose into a thriving, lush green ecosystem.

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SVB night view, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

SVB night view, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Reservoirs, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Reservoirs, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Birds eye view night, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Birds eye view night, Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

Photo credits: Vastu-Shilpa Foundation

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