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Designing a Tsunami Evacuation Park

Designed an innovative tsunami refuge in walking distance of dense neighborhoods where people do not have easy access to natural high ground. The elevated mound houses a park for daily use.


Conceptual drawing of a Tsunami Evacuation Park for Padang, Indonesia. (Kornberg Associates)

Padang, Indonesia has one of the highest tsunami risks in the world. There is a high probability that, within the next 30 years, a close off-shore thrust fault will generate a large earthquake, and a tsunami will follow in 30 minutes. If it hits today, half of Padang's 900,000 people have no option to reach safety.

We proposed a new concept: Create tsunami refuge on an elevated public park. Residents can walk to it in the short time available to evacuate, and they can use it any time for recreation. It provides "vertical" evacuation where there is no access to high ground.

GeoHazards International and Stanford University had studied options to substantially increase tsunami refuge in the flat, coastal city. Man-made mounds proved to be the most practical and cost effective solution for densely populated areas.


Location of historic earthquakes (red), West Sumatra, Indonesia. The star marks Padang.

Our concept for a Tsunami Evacuation Park is attractive, inexpensive, accessible 24/7, easy to construct, and easily maintained by the city. Kornberg Associates developed conceptual drawings with a soccer field on top. This design would accommodate 20,000 people in an emergency.

Tsunami Evacuation Parks are a fast, scalable solution. Located close to homes and schools, they are easily reached by women, children, and the elderly. These are the people who are particularly vulnerable in a tsunami. They die in disproportionately high numbers, in large part because they have less or difficult access to refuge.

We acquired permission from the Indonesian Air Force to build a prototype TEP in the northern part of Padang. Construction would cost about $2 million, amounting to a cost-per-life-saved of ~US$100, far lower than the per capita cost of the other options.

An Indonesian nonprofit foundation collected funds for the construction of the prototype. Indonesia’s national agency for disaster management, BNPB, endorsed the initiative.

Many coastal cities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and the west coast of the Americas need to create elevated tsunami refuge where none now exists--and quickly. The risk of tragedy increases as coastal cities grow and as sea level rises. Vertical evacuation can be designed into parks as well as tall buildings, mosques, and pedestrian overpasses.

Funded by Swiss Re Foundation

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