The Australian story would not be complete without its digger narrative of mateship, egalitarianism and remembrance; a narrative that is upheld today in the multiple events and sites across the country that pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of all Australians affected by war.
The Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk in Adelaide, first approved by the South Australian government in January 2014 and completed in April 2016, is one of these many spaces. Symbolically linked to South Australia’s principal site of remembrance – the SA National War Memorial on North Terrace with the Torrens Parade Ground and the Pathway of Honour – the Memorial Walk seeks to provide a memorial space within an urban environment that would be readily recognised as a Centenary of Anzac project, while being simple, elegant and reflective.
The project is premised on three familiar but powerful pillars of symbolism: Remembrance, Service and Loyalty. Unsurprisingly, the brief given to the architects at Grieve Gillett Andersen was also multi-dimensional in nature, comprising a number of guidelines that ensured the site would be “a memorial for all, not a few”. This included providing a space for gathering, and transforming the existing site so it would be suitable for education, reflection and contemplation. Other conditions in the brief were:
- Opening up views and vistas to Government House
- Addressing the security, privacy, heritage and functionality of Government House
- Upgrading the existing footpath (including lighting, landscaping and stormwater requirements) and strengthening pedestrian connections between Adelaide City and the Riverbank
- Considering the context and surrounding sites of heritage significance and connection to the North Terrace Precinct
- Utilising South Australian materials
Site Plan of the Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk, a public memorial precinct that has transformed and opened up Kintore Avenue in Adelaide as a pedestrian boulevard and an important piece of public infrastructure
Adding to the already goal-heavy brief was the challenge of working with various stakeholders, from local council and Government House, to Veterans SA and several neighbouring cultural institutions. This meant the design team had to respect the requirements of multiple ‘clients’, such as adhering to public safety lighting and street lighting standards, as well as suite urban furniture as per local council standard.
For instance, the cultural significance of the project necessitated graceful and subdued lighting effects, but requirements for high levels of public space lighting, and an intent to play with contrast, made for challenging parameters in lighting design.
On this end, Grieve Gillett Andersen chose to use modern LED lights, with a single post top light illuminating both pedestrian lighting as well as street lighting to the required level. This eliminated the need for additional streetlights. At the same time, all decorative lighting elements are disabled on hot days to extend the products’ lifetime, with only the public safety lighting in effect.
Fun fact: The Memorial Walk sees the first amendment to the Government House boundary in 88 years, shifting the boundary by 10m west and re-appropriating 2,700sqm to the public realm
Other ways the team has incorporated elements highlighting the Centenary of Anzac within the urban fabric of the site include laying the theatres of conflict in bands of contrasting South Australian granite pavers. Meanwhile, polished Adelaide Black granite has been employed to encourage self-reflection during a moment of respect and remembrance, with the interpretive panels and seating concentrated away from the Government House gardens.
In-wall ground level lights spotlight the pavers, which were selected for their durability and low maintenance requirements
Etched into the granite panels are 1,020 markers, each representing 100 Australian service men and women who have died in conflict. Framed by these etched markers are panels that incorporate imagery representing the diversity and breadth of those involved in, and affected by, war.
To ensure that the memorial walk serves its purpose of providing a space for quiet contemplation and reflection, the architects cleverly used an avenue of trees and a linear garden as a green buffer between the site and passing traffic to block out noise from the city surrounds. Adding to the landscape is a double row of street trees (Tristaniopsis laurina ‘Luscious’), which were installed to the extent of the walk. This addition increased the total street trees along the west side of Kintore Avenue from eight to 44, with the large continuous canopy expected to help reduce the ‘heat island’ effect within the site and provide summer shade to visitors.
Only native Australian plant species were used, selected to suit the South Australian weather conditions and minimise the requirements for irrigation
Serving multiple purposes – from offering tranquility and a sense of comfort for those affected by war, to providing a fitting extension to the SA National War Memorial – the Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk is not designed to be flashy or outspoken. On the contrary, it draws attention away from its design and itself, submitting to a ‘higher purpose’ that is clearly defined in the interpretive panel:
“The Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk is a lasting reminder of the human cost of war.”
Polished Adelaide Black Granite
Balmoral Green Pavers sourced from Padthaway Green
Calca Red Pavre sourced from Streaky Bay
Modern LED light sources