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Brimmed with Memories: Reinterpreting Archive for Elephants

Located in Ta Klang Village, Surin, Thailand, the project centers on the strong bonding relationship between local people and the elephants that have grown up as part of their families. The villagers maintain a peaceful elephant graveyard with over 100 resting places for deceased elephants, where the tombs recognize and commemorate their bonds with humans. However, the current graveyard’s significance is limited by its atomized structure and individual connections between each mahout and their elephants. Thus, the project aims to reinterpret the graveyard into an archive space for elephants, where the village’s collective memory can be etched. The design is inspired by the elephant footprint, where each elephant’s death is honored by weaving its memory into the ground. The ground keeps track of the elephant footprints, which are collected to form an archive of the village’s history. The formless and chaotic nature of elephant marks become a repository for memories and stories, and over time, the space leaves a trace of elephants that complete the design. The space serves as an archive, a garden, a forest underground, and a place for elephants, humans, and other non-human animals, where the stages of grief are respected, and the place of remembrance is defined and fortified with the energies of life. The project transforms the elephant graveyard into a space of archive and commemoration for the elephants’ bonds with humans and their collective memories.