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Strathewen Bushfire Memorial

In collaboration with Urban Initiatives

The State President’s Award for Landscape Architecture is awarded to Strathewen Community Bushfire Memorial.

Saturday February 7th 2009 marked the most intense and destructive bushfire Australia had ever seen.

A simple concept of four tear drops falling onto the landscape provided the physical form from which the community of Strathewen could begin to overlay their story of the event. Ripples of slate and sandstone radiating out from four central stainless steel domes reference the ripple effects of the fire on the broader community. Each circle carries its own theme of beauty, loss, rebuilding, hope and rejuvenation. Individual stories from community members were sourced to create a collective voice. We referenced the Japanese style of Haiku poetry with minimal words and no punctuation to focus on the essence of their experience.

The text was sandblasted into the sandstone so that the legibility of words became stronger with the different shadows cast by the morning and afternoon light.  With the ever changing light and seasonal conditions, these voices become louder or softer reducing to a mere whisper when the light is dull. It was important  that people could access the poetry if they wanted to, but could also enjoy the tranquillity of the space without being overwhelmed by the imagery of the event. Words were chosen carefully.

Arterial worked with the community and the Memorials Working Group to develop the content and worked closely with Urban Initiatives to refine and implement the final design.

Film - The recovery big stories small towns 

RACV Article - my story

RACV Article - memorials help communities heal