Respect for Place
The new Southern Entrance marks the beginning and end of the journey through the Memorial proper, providing a place to orientate and connect both physically and emotionally. These important functions defined the project’s core design principles — Context, Experience, Orientation and Connection.
Contextually, the Australian War Memorial sits on one of three key radials of the great Griffin Plan, connecting Capital Hill with Mt. Ainslie. It is in keeping with this symmetry that the new southern entrance was placed, creating three distinct design moves that define the experience and orientation, and connecting new with old.
The first key move was the introduction of a new central focal nexus, The Oculus, to act as a physical, visual and emotional connection to the existing Memorial. This new element forms the keystone of the Southern Entrance. It is an orienting, unifying and reflecting element; a focal point that bookends the journey and experience through the Memorial. Sitting in line with the Hall of Memory, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Pool of Reflection and the Stone of Remembrance, it anchors the relationship of the new Southern Entrance with the existing linear and radial grids of the Memorial and contextually with the main Griffin masterplan axis. Conceptually, ‘The Oculus draws upon the scale and detail of the dome to the Hall of Memory,’ describes Design Director Nicholas Bandounas, whilst also ‘paying homage to the external finned structure and its wonderful Napier Waller-designed internal mosaic collage.’
The second move is to draw people into the building towards The Oculus via an arced radial wall that cradles the existing Memorial building and creates new landscaped entrances from the East and West. The sweeping wall creates a logical and instinctual wayfinding device that guides and encourages the visitor to be drawn to the heart of the building. Contextually, the arced wall draws on the geometry of Griffins original masterplan, where symbolic buildings are at the main axial intersections.
The third move is the creation of a building edge, a wall, which sits perpendicular to Capital Hill and the Mt. Ainslie Griffin axis. This wall, acting as a backdrop to the Stone of Remembrance, provides order, unity and symmetry to the Parade Ground. Cutting centrally through this wall is the key symmetrical centre stair that connects the Parade Ground up to the existing Memorial entrance.
It is through these key moves that the design respects its place, orienting the spatial planning and visitor journey to the existing axes and reaffirming the importance of the existing buildings and their ongoing relationship to the linear and radial grids of the Memorial, and to the original Griffin master-plan axis.