• Client ::

    • Office of Australian War Graves - Dept of Veteran Affairs Australia
  • Location ::

    • Hyde Park Corner, London
  • Completed ::

    • 2003
  • Team ::

    • Peter Tonkin, Neil Mackenzie, Heidi Pronk, Scott Davis, Kon Vourtzoumis, Etai Navon, Roger O'Sullivan. Artist: Janet Laurence. Photos by Patrick Bingham-Hall.
  • Awards ::

    • 2003 First Prize and Commission 2006 Australian Stone Architectural Award, Best International Project

Project Description::

Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, in collaboration with the artist Janet Laurence, won this project through a limited competition conducted by the Australian Government. The Memorial is located on a prominent site in central London, and commemorates the efforts of the Australian Services, allied with those of Great Britain, in the two World Wars. One hundred thousand Australians fighting “in defence of freedom” were killed alongside the British during these battles.

The site, at Hyde Park Corner, is at the fulcrum of the ceremonial route through London and is shared with the Wellington Arch and the Ionic Screen by Decimus Burton, both classical 18th Century monuments by Decimus Burton, built from Portland stone. The Australian Memorial unites the green space at this critical intersection, and has been designed as a respectful gesture to both the existing historic monuments and the eloquent landform itself.

The wall of the Memorial encloses the site’s sloping grassed amphitheatre and creates a focal space, both for quiet reflection and for major commemorative events. The curved sculptural wall is entirely faced with prefabricated green granite from Western Australia. Each stone was prefabricated to exacting tolerances in Australia and site-fixed in a very short period, many to complex laser-cut stainless steel cradles.

The Memorial’s iconography is key to the symbolism of the design, and comprises a layering of two sets of texts – the larger letters are formed by ‘bolding’ the smaller type, a method designed to emphasise the relationship of the individual to the wider forces of war and society. The smaller type-face lists 24,000 towns, the birthplaces of the Australian service men and women. Significantly, many of these places are in the UK or Europe, and several are repeated in the large text type. The places named in the larger text are a section of 47 significant battlegrounds where the Australians fought alongside the British.

A major water feature was a requirement of the brief, and this has been designed as a random wash of water over successive panels of text, symbolically refreshing memories and cleansing the pain of suffering and loss. The Memorial was designed and constructed in under twelve months, and was dedicated by HM the Queen and by the Australian and British Prime Ministers on Remembrance Day, 2003.