The Aceh Tsunami Museum was designed by Indonesian architect Ridwan Kamil. The museum is a 2,500 m2 four-story structure; its long curving walls covered in geometric reliefs. Inside, visitors enter through a dark, narrow corridor between two high walls of water — meant to recreate the noise and panic of the tsunami itself. The museum walls are adorned with images of people performing the Saman dance, a symbolic gesture dedicated to the strength, discipline and religious beliefs of the Acehnese people. From above, the roof resembles a tidal wave. The ground floor is modelled on the kind of traditional raised Acehnese houses that were best equipped to survive the tsunami.
The building acknowledges both the victims, whose names are to be inscribed on the wall of one of the museum’s internal chambers, and the surviving members of the local community.
In addition to its role as a memorial for those who died, the museum also offers a place of refuge from future such events, including an “escape hill” for visitors to run to in the event of another tsunami.