Wheeler, Tone: Tone on Tuesday: The democratic spatial narrative of the Australian War Memorial

Have your say with the National Capital Authority on the Memorial’s ‘early works’ application. You don’t need to live in Canberra. Arguments here.

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Tone Wheeler

Tone on Tuesday: The democratic spatial narrative of the Australian War Memorial‘, Architecture and Design, 30 March 2021

Architecture critic writes about the history of the War Memorial and how the current project fails to fit in with that history.

[T]he AWM is about to be overrun by a $500m building program which will overwhelm the memorial. It originally had a small museum (and research facilities), later increased, including the very fine Anzac Hall designed by Denton Corker Marshall. But the proposed changes are all about expanding the museum function, at the expense of the sacred memorial, and it has nothing to do at all with enhancing a great piece of architecture … [T]he proposed changes to the AWM will not add to, but rather detract from, it’s power as our key memorial.

The author walks through the Memorial, concentrating on the symbolism of its architecture and its importance of that architecture for commemoration.

Whilst the proposals for change to the AWM will make only minor amendments to this sequence, the “museumification” of the AWM will nevertheless detract from this spiritual experience. A “newseum” with a series of digitally enhanced interactive Disneyfied events, surrounded by war toys, may have its place, but it’s not here. Not now. Not ever.

And finally:

It is an outrageous waste to demolish the unobtrusive DCM [Denton Corker Marshall] designed Anzac Hall at the rear, only to see it replaced with a massive overdevelopment, which seems to only serve as a vanity project for various right wing political and media interests.

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