On March 11, 2011, the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami killed more than 10,000 people in Japan, with water travelling up to 10 kilometres inland in Sendai. This, and the resulting nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant, forced millions from their homes.
The suggested site for Lee's [ME]morial is now a designated revitalisation zone on the coast, which has been planned as a park and memorial area.
His scheme treats the area as a found landscape with numerous sites of memory. The foundations of destroyed buildings would be used as locations for the three memorial types.
For Air, a thin frame forms an outline of a house and support a mirrored steel roof. A viewing platform would be suspended from the roof, offering views out over the devastated landscape.
For Water, glass plates would be suspended over a reflecting pool set in the concrete base of a destroyed house. Visitors would look down into the water-filled volume.
Most memorials privilege collective memory over that of solitary experience, creating a one-sided relationship between the memorial object and the viewer, according to Lee.
"The project seeks to challenge and extend traditional architectural definitions of memorial architecture," said Lee. "Each individual will have personalised experiences in each [ME]morial. [ME]morial will serve as a space not only for soothing victims’ wounded hearts, but also for letting people memorialise their individual memories."
Lee hopes that using the elements as the theme for the project, the memorials would prompt viewers to consider not only the loss of lives and the destruction wrought by the tsunami and earthquake, but also the unpredictability of the natural world.