Each aspect of the design in a memorial has a dual responsibility to fulfill. A memorial by definition has to sustain and elicit the memory of the tragedy for the general populace. In this sense it is rooted in the past. The Formulation of the program was a crucial step in this direction; it would determine to a large the extent the sphere of influence and continued relevance of the memorial. The program elements would be instruments that engender their own evolution guided by time and process. The competition brief was open ended and provided ample scope to include elements which would ensure that the memorial design, while being the conclusion of one process, would be a catalyst for many more.

The Site

The site is currently situated in the Northern periphery of Bhopal city. It is a part of a small island of industrial plots in an otherwise largely lower and middle income residential zone. Currently, in the context of Bhopal the site is located in the blurry margins of the cityscape and mindscape. At the onset it does not seem to offer much potential in terms of an audience or setting for a memorial of this scale.

But conversely such a project has the ability to revitalize the entire neighboring zone and bring it to prominence. Also, if one maps the projected expansion of Bhopal the area will gradually become a central node in the Northern zone. The site, therefore, offers many latent possibilities that can be harnessed.

Memorial Complex, Site Plan

Design Diagram

At a micro level the largely triangular site is bounded by a railway line and vast industrial plots on three sides. Only a protruding edge faces the highway and the settlement. This provides a small window of opportunity for interaction with the public realm. Otherwise most parts of the site are visually and physically inaccessible. Boundaries needed to be broken down to allow the site to be part of the City, while the City had to reconnect with the Factories to be reminded of the tragedy.

There was a need to reexamine and redefine the existing sense of visibility, accessibility and opportunity the Factory complex shares with the rest of the City. To weave the memorial into the existing city systems required efforts to link it to the neighborhood - physically, notionally and functionally.

A powerful way of doing so was to develop new vehicular and pedestrian linkages in order to establish a dominant visual contact with the surrounding area. The realignment of the road opens site to the settlement and makes a part of the site physically merge with the adjacent settlement. The Landscape weaves around the road such that the pedestrian linkages remain unhindered by the vehicular movement.

The M.I.C and Sevin plants from where the gas leaked dominate the memorial complex, both physically and symbolically.

A series of spaces and exhibits illustrates the plight of the victims1 and acknowledges their spirit of resurgence. Exhibits on other industrial calamities make the visitor aware of development problems. Interaction with activists and survirors involves them in the quest to find solutions.

Concept Narrative