The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Australian War Memorial, London Photo © Sarah J Duncan
Click to see full size Photo © Sarah J Duncan

War memorials

London: Australian War Memorial

Architect: Tonkin Zulaikha Greer with artist Janet Laurence, 2003
Location: Hyde Park Corner, London

Occupying a prominent position on Hyde Park Corner in the heart of London, the site of the memorial is part of the ceremonial route that links Admiralty Arch, the Mall, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch. Taking its inspiration from the contours of Hyde Park Corner, the memorial is partly a landform, rising from the surface of the park through a series of Australian granite slabs. Principal architect Peter Tonkin explained that that, “the form chosen for the memorial reflects the sweep of Australian landscape, the breadth and generosity of our people, the openness that we believe should characterise our culture’. Also reflected in the shape of the wall are echoes of Australia’s unique flora and cultural heritage – the gumleaf and the boomerang – though the former is perhaps more difficult to appreciate and the latter was clearly gifted by the site.

The 23,844 place names that are etched into the solid granite of the wall record the origins of those who served their nation in the two world wars, laid over these names are 47 of the battles in which they fought.

The project’s completion was timed to coincide with the 85th anniversary of Armistice Day – 11 November 2003. The Australian War Memorial London was dedicated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. John Howard MP and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Rt Hon. Tony Blair MP. The opening of the memorial took place 11 months after work began on 11 November at 11am.

Gavin Stamp & Jon Wright

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