Canberra, Australia, 2008 | It is the intension of this proposal for the memorials to WW1 and WW2 that the significant number of Australians who all participated in the theatres of these two world wars be remembered by the increasing generations who had no direct experience of the world wars. A distinction is being made between those Australians who remained in Australia, those who left Australia to fight in other countries and returned and those who died in other countries and were unable to return. This proposal works with the possibility that the act of remembering forms a return.

…………… IN THE PARKLANDS………. In reconciling the presence of the two memorials in the parklands and the potential conflict of purpose with more light hearted recreational pursuits this proposal takes the practice of using park benches as memorials in parks as its starting point. In this starting point there is an ambition to recognise each of the individual Australians who contributed to the Australian war efforts, the comradely of participation and the national contribution and legacy of these efforts.

…………… AS PARK BENCH The tradition of park benches being used as memorials for people who have died is usually an arrangement of mutual benefit between the people who finance a park and people who want to pay for a bench to commemorate a lost loved one, as a gift to the lost loved one, to themselves as a place to remember and as a gift to others who are still living to enjoy the environment of the park that was enjoyed by the lost loved one whilst still living. As a person who is taking recreational time out of normal everyday activities in a park the offering of a park bench, as a place to stop and participate in contemplative time and environment, is often welcomed. A bench that has a commemorative plaque usually stops the person who is welcoming the use of the bench, first with the disturbing confrontation with the death of an unknown person and then, with a smile of appreciation, a sitting down that appreciates the opportunity and the sharing. These relationships between the living and the dead seem particularly useful in resolving and working with the potential conflict in positioning the WW1 and WW2 memorials within the recreational and leisure activities of the parklands.

MEMORIALS AS PARK BENCH EXTENDED TO NATIONAL SYMBOL …….. This proposal for the WW1 and WW2 Memorials uses the park bench as an extension or extrusion. The lengths of these park bench extrusions represent the numbers of Australians killed in each world war. These extrusions are constrained by the given volumes for the memorials and would produce a sense of vertigo in relation to the number of Australians, from all walks of life, who were involved in the war efforts and the numbers of deaths of those involved.

The WW1 Memorial, where the relatively larger number of deaths occurred, is made up of vertically extruded park benches, resulting in a more majestic verticality. The WW2 memorial is made up of continuous extruded park benches that rise vertically, negotiating the given volumetric constraints for the memorial and capture the less valorous experiences of Australian servicemen in the South-east Asian campaign.

Some of the vertically extruded park benches extend horizontally into the parklands, orientated towards the states from which fallen Australians originated. These park benches invite the public to rest and participate in a remembrance that affects a return.

status: competition
achievements: exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Show 2008 in London
collaboration: Dr. Jenny Lowe