International design competition – Norwegian Tsunami Memorial
Client: The National Foundation for Art in Public Buildings, Norway
Design: Monolab, team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with T. Iwashita
Year: 2006


…the white field of stones

In the wake of the Tsunami disaster in South East Asia on 26th December 2004, the Norwegian Government has put ‘The National Foundation for Art in Public Buildings’ in charge of a memorial site in Norway to honour the victims. The purpose of the site is to be a space for mourning and contemplation for those who have experienced dramatic events in their lives. The memorial site is to be an art/architectural project. It will be located somewhere on the Western shoreline of the Bygdøy peninsular in Oslo, Norway, and it is to be visible from both land and sea. This area, with its beach and its varied topography, is used all year round for outdoor activities.

The design ‘the field of white stones’ helps relatives and friends to commemorate the victims in different steps. Four conditions make the monument a place for contemplation, to come to terms with sorrow and grief:
1. A fragmented field of white stones on the sloped part of the shore, visible between the trees. This is a place to look towards the sea, protected by the trees and by the hill in the back.
2. The fragmented field continues in the water. A path of black concrete with basalt rock (fit for wheelchairs) leads to a stone raft.
3. The raft is surrounded by shallow water. It is a stable base to look back to the land and forth to the see. It consists of grouped white stones, assembled in black concrete with basalt.
4. Towards the sea is a vertical screen with voids. The voids, or openings, mirror the stones in the raft. These are all unique, symbolizing the (souls of the) victims.

The monument has a zero ecological footprint, all materials are natural and will last for centuries. The white stones and the screen are made of white fibre prefab concrete. The raft and screen together make a space for memorial services where visitors, individuals as well as families and groups, can reconciliate past and future.