The memorial changes the way people behave in the site rather than changing the site itself. The sweeping arc folds into the land providing spaces of procession, congregation, reflection. A wall of thin black steel holds the memorial. Fragility and strength. A room whose edge is defined by seating, sits below the elm tree, cocooned by purple planting, a signifier of the cause. The existing land is folded, defining an elevated platform for congregation and a view beyond to Fitzroy Gardens. A hip height datum is struck, responding to safety, comfort, and visibility.
This memorial is an acknowledgment of the immeasurable. No names but individual memories. The memorial wall holds the land. Retaining. Supporting. The smoking-vessel is nurtured by the structure below. Inscribed with the words, ‘Lore of the land keeps People safe’, the vessel will facilitate Indigenous cultural practices and reminds visitors of their responsibility to look after Country.
The Victorian Family Violence Memorial presents a new place for reflection on the city’s edge. Intrinsic to the project’s success is the exemplary consultation process through which the project was developed. Through a continued and open dialogue with victim survivors, First Nations and state government advisory groups, Muir+Openwork have reframed the memorial typology. This is a place for everyone, a place where people can bring their own meaning and their own interpretations.
Situated on a triangulated site, bound by a busy street and the austere presence of the Commonwealth Building, the memorial successfully grounds itself within a layered context. Defining its physical relationships through scale and orientation, the memorial creates a dialogue with the surrounding topography to form a protected space for contemplation.
The procession is articulated along a sinuous black steel wall that offers moments for pause before culminating at an inscribed smoking vessel. Showing considered restraint in both scale and approach, the hip-height wall results in a feeling of being protected, but not hidden.
Understated, nuanced and subtle, the memorial navigates its difficult physical and cultural context to establish a sense of quiet defiance. A place that is open yet specific, subtle yet powerful, soft yet permanent.
Forced Adoption Practices and Artist Anne Ross, ‘Taken Not Given’ Memorial stakeholder
Michael Tenburren (TenBurren Irrigation), Irrigation Consultant
Phil Gardiner (WSP), Structural Engineer
Sarah Lynn Rees, Indigenous Advisor
Victims Survivors’ Advisory Council, Lived experience stakeholder
Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, Boon Wurrung Foundation, Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Traditional Custodians and cultural advisors
City of Melbourne
The Department of Premier and Cabinet, Office for Women