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Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial

Integrated Landscape and Public Art Competition

ClientMetropolitan Fire Brigade
LocationBurnley, Victoria
TeamStutterheim / Anderson Landscape Architecture

The brief for this invited competition entry asked for a memorial that could be relocated if the need arose. Raked sand, simple lighting elements, edging and plaque elements constitute a minimalist core to this design. The dense glass lit hollows that mark and memorialise the fallen are located not on a linear timeline, but on a curved knot of memory. A ceremonial deck, seating and hard surfacing complete the design.

The Memorial Garden: the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Memorial in envisaged as a Ceremonial Garden. Similar to a dry Zen garden, our memorial configures a place which invites contemplation, which interweaves the Past, Present, and Future, and which honours and upholds the lives sacrificed in the line of duty.

The Spiral Timeline and Interwoven Memory: The Memorial conceives the experience of Time and Memory as interwoven. Rather than a linear chronology which leaves the past forever cut off or removed from the present, our Memorial spatialises Time as interwoven and somewhat entangled. The Memorial acknowledges the persistence of the Past, Present and Future, and performs the irruptions, discontinuities and strange concurrencies that constitute the dynamic experiences of remembering and forgetting. This understanding of Time and Memory finds expression in the Spiral Timeline. This timeline generates a lively and irregular distribution of temporal zones. Each of these zones represents a decade of chronological time. Each of these decade zones is in turn organized by a yearly calendar. This temporal mapping locates the moment of each of the 28 deaths within the Memorial.

The Memorial Vessels: Each of the 28 deaths is marked by a Memorial Vessel. The Memorial Vessels are imagined as solid glass forms etched with the name of the person commemorated. Individually made of toughened slumped glass, each vessel will be uniquely irregular and be evocative of fragility, intimacy, and strength. Embedded in a sea of gravel and placed over in-ground lights, the distributed field of Memorial Vessels will form a glowing memorial constellation at night.

The Field of Memory: Each of the Memorial Vessels will be like stones or tear drops falling upon the surface of water. Each ‘moment’ of each Memorial Vessel generates a radiating energy pattern. These ‘ripples’ move together and through each other to produce a Field of Memory. This turbulence pattern or still standing wave of remembrance is formed in a carefully raked sea of washed gravel.

Memorial Plaques: Placed along the concrete edge of the Field of Memory, in relation to each of the Memorial Vessels, are 28 bronze plaques each etched with a corresponding name, title, and date of death.

The Ceremonial Deck and Surrounds: Through clearing away part of the ‘hedge’ planting on the northern edge of the Field of Memory our memorial establishes a Ceremonial Deck. Made from Australian Hardwood timbers this deck opens the Memorial to its immediate context, invites approach, and provides a place for gathering and for contemplation.

Incorporation of the Future: The accomplishment, if you will, of the Spiral Timeline and the irregular chronological zoning of the Memorial is that, as well as encompassing the future, it also makes room for the future. In this way, the Memorial can comfortably accommodate future losses up to the end of 2069. Indeed, each new Memorial Vessel added to the Memorial, by reconfiguring the pattern of the memorial Garden, will serve to re-energize and maintain the Memorial Garden as an active place of re-membering.

Maintenance: The only maintenance requirement of our Memorial is that the gravel be carefully raked on a regular basis to maintain the surface pattern. To this end, we propose that a small percent of the overall project budget be invested to provide funds to pay for this process of ongoing care or tenderness. Perhaps this could be something undertaken by a retired service personnel?

Transportability: Our Memorial can be easily relocated, if the need arises. As the organisation of the Memorial is founded upon a principal of non-standard reconfiguration, and as it is composed of loose gravel, removable Vessels, and a flexible non-fixed lighting grid, it is genuinely adaptable to other locations where it can be reassembled according to the parameters of the new site.

Competition entry

Competition entry

Temporal spatialisation digramming

Temporal spatialisation digramming

Schematic lighting plan

Schematic lighting plan