The brave men and women of our Victorian Emergency Services lay their lives on the line, daily, right around Victoria in Australia. Their service and sacrifice is continuous; their courage, bravery and duty of care to others equals their comrades in the armed forces, and their exposure to risk never ceases.
Rush Wright Associates was engaged to create the landscape design for the new Victoria Emergency Services Memorial which was crafted from the need to integrate memorialisation of the six Emergency Services organisations into the historically significant grounds of Treasury Gardens in Melbourne’s CBD, providing a central location for access by all Victorians.
The Victoria Emergency Services Memorial is a place of sanctuary and reflection for members’ families, as they gather either individually or in groups to reflect on the service and sacrifice of their loved ones.
For this reason, design has evolved to become a ‘garden memorial’. This strategy differs from other memorials in Melbourne’s parklands, which are largely sculptures and objects placed into the larger parkland scene.
The design integrates the six Emergency Service organisations into one landscape setting and draws on historical references to transform the experience of a meandering walk at the edge of the lake into an evocative memorial response. A beautifully detailed stone wall follows the path to establish six discrete lobes- one for each agency.
In the centre of the memorial, two damp, planted reed beds and soaks with mist fountains form the heart of the Memorial space – an ephemeral, ever changing cloud that floats above the reeds, signifying smoke, impermanence, the frailty of mere flesh and suggestions of transcendence.
An emphasis on crafting a selection of Victorian stones juxtaposing rough and sawn edges to reveal hand sculpted cast bronze commemorative elements lends a tactile pathos to the Memorial and links to the tradition of stonework in Melbourne’s historic central parks.