The Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian National Memorial (ANM) in France was commissioned by the Australian Government to commemorate the role of Australian forces in the Great War. Hector Abrahams Architects were part of the large and skilled team appointed to the project, working with Cox Architecture, Tim Williams Architects and the French firm John Lampros Architecte. The site is one of 38 sites of Cemeteries and Memorials included on a UNESCO World Heritage tentative listing.
The key design principle in the project brief required the interpretation centre to be hidden from view on approach through the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and the ANM. HAA’s role included the development of an understanding about the existing site, and how the new building could be best connected to ensure a good visitor experience. The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and opened in 1938 by King George VI. Our research on the original design by Lutyens has resulted in the laying of previously unbuilt paths shown on his published plans for the Memorial. HAA’s investigations also revealed the historic landscaping intentions of paths and trees around the entire site, informing the landscaping now in place at the site. HAA’s understanding of the ANM’s architectural attributes made a key contribution to the development of the design, including commemorative elements, symbols, and the lighting scheme which illuminates the site at night.
Photographs © Tim Williams