War Memorial should go back to drawing board, says Architects Institute

Ian Bushnell 4 January 2020 36
Anzac Hall

The award-winning Anzac Hall will be demolished. Photo: Australian Institute of Architects.

The Australian War Memorial should be required to modify its $500 million redevelopment plans and provide alternatives to the demolition of Anzac Hall, according to an independent heritage review commissioned by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the official plans for the controversial nine-year project last November, including the proposal for a new southern underground entrance, refurbishment of the main building, a new larger Anzac Hall connected to the main building, an extension to the Bean Building and public realm works.

The independent review forms the basis of the Institute’s submission on the Memorial’s EPBC Referral, which raises significant and ongoing concerns about the planned demolition of Anzac Hall and threats to the heritage value of the site, including the nationally significant Eastern Precinct Development, as well as the AWM failing to follow due process.

“The Institute recognises the need and in principal understands that ongoing development of the AWM will include the provision of more exhibition space. However, it is essential that the National and Commonwealth heritage values and solemn purpose and nature of the site as a memorial are retained in all decision-making processes,” it says.

Ashley Built Heritage’s review calls for the Referral to be identified as a Controlled Action and that the AWM be required to revise the proposal to identify ”prudent alternatives” that would retain Anzac Hall, abandon the glazed courtyard addition and revise the southern entry so the current experience is retained.

“After such changes the Referral should be resubmitted and considered via the EPBC Act pathway that includes opportunities for substantive public review and comment given the national significance of this place,” it says.

Eastern view of new Anzac Hall

Eastern view of new Anzac Hall and the glazed link. Images: AWM.

The review says the bulk and visibility of the glazed courtyard addition to the Memorial would result in a loss of the visibility of the Memorials’ architectural values and form associated with its deeper meaning as a shrine.

The second significant impact would be the demolition of the award-winning Anzac Hall, a key component of the AWM Precinct that is carefully set back from the main Memorial to protect its setting while still having its own architectural qualities of the highest order.

The review says the third key impact is that the arrival to the AWM will be reduced, delaying and obscuring what currently is an immediate and profound experience.

It also says the proposed new southern entrance threatens the fabric of the Memorial, and all the proposed built forms and associated hard landscaping put the overall character of the landcsape at risk.

The review says the Referral does not comply with a number of the policies contained in Heritage Management Plans for the AWM, including those that require the retention, conservation and interpretation of Anzac Hall.

Ashley Built Heritage also identified other problems with the Referral.

Southern entrance

The southern entrance, including the oculus, shop and digital displays.

A Reference Design, that included the demolition of Anzac Hall, was a mandatory requirement in the architectural design competition, even though three other Preliminary Designs met the same floor space requirements but retained Anzac Hall.

The public consultation has been limited, excluding actual design concepts and professional stakeholders such as the Institute or the Moral Rights holders of Anzac Hall.

Only some parts of the proposed redevelopment are dealt with in the Referral, instead of all aspects being included in the one public process.

The Institute also believes that due process has not been followed.

The Institute is extremely disappointed that not only did the Reference Design significantly constrain the usual creative competition design processes, it also lost the opportunity to creatively explore further options identified in the Preliminary Design stage, which would have supported the retention of Anzac Hall.

It says parts of the project, such as the temporary car park, have already been approved by the National Capital Authority, which acknowledged it was part of the overall redevelopment project.

“The Institute has significant concerns about the process followed in relation to heritage considerations for the $498.7 million Redevelopment Project and the extent to which the entire project has progressed without the relevant heritage approvals in place,” the Institute says.

“The Memorial has legislative obligations for the protection and conservation of the heritage values for all Australians. It is not apparent that the Memorial has liaised effectively or to the extent required for such a significant project or adequately assessed the proposal’s cumulative impact on the site.”

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36 Responses to War Memorial should go back to drawing board, says Architects Institute
Lisina Metionina Lisina Metionina 3:18 am 07 Jan 20

There should be a public election for people to choose if they want it refurbished. I don't think i have ever seen or heard anyone who supports the demolition of this building. Whoever wants to be remembered for doing something useful or special to the war memorial...should find a better idea...

Nick Henderson Nick Henderson 12:57 pm 06 Jan 20

Less than 20% of that $500m would digitally preserve Australia's entire film, TV, radio, music, sound etc heritage held by the NFSA, but its not entirely war-focused, oh well...

Mark Chapman Mark Chapman 11:23 am 06 Jan 20

Eh, it's only $500 million dollars. Why give any thought about how it's spent? /s

Although, seriously

"A Reference Design, that included the demolition of Anzac Hall, was a mandatory requirement in the architectural design competition"

so wasting money and wrecking what was there already was mandatory? Why?

Gail Vest Gail Vest 12:02 am 06 Jan 20

At first glance of the renovation, the AustralianWarMemorial looked like a mosque.

Bill Hatossy Bill Hatossy 6:31 pm 05 Jan 20

Having worked at the WM, and also having worked over a lengthy time on our most important national precincts, it concerns me that too many people dive in and really do not understand why some of these precincts will have to grow, change and develop. Do try and gain some perspective. There have been far more hideous developments in this cityscape than what is proposed for the AW!.

David Sharon Hendren David Sharon Hendren 4:08 pm 05 Jan 20

Until there are no more veteran suicides and no more homeless vets, then they can think about Nelson edifice! 500,000,000 would go a long way to helping those people who served their country and now need our help!

Angela Loevendie Angela Loevendie 3:17 pm 05 Jan 20

Leave it as it was and still is the response from the people who fought those wars for us the next generation. We have far more important priorities now and for the future. Not for some old farts who continue to hunger for the “good ole days” the glory is in the memories not in expensive edifices

    Mary Kingsford Mary Kingsford 1:41 pm 06 Jan 20

    Angela Loevendie

    It's today's generation's story that needs to be told too.

Andrew Watson Andrew Watson 2:44 pm 05 Jan 20

Should be spending it on our vets not some edifice to appease a retiring lnp politician

Susan Ouzas-Lembcke Susan Ouzas-Lembcke 2:41 pm 05 Jan 20

All for glitz & glamour again. More help for the war veterans would be money well spent.

    Vicki Collins Vicki Collins 3:11 pm 05 Jan 20

    Susan Ouzas-Lembcke exactly priorities are all wrong.

    Roland Paul Roland Paul 3:13 pm 15 Jan 20

    Sure. Although, it seems to me that in this day n age maybe she shouldn't have war veterans.

    Susan Ouzas-Lembcke Susan Ouzas-Lembcke 3:51 pm 15 Jan 20

    Roland Paul ?????

Sally Tregellas Wodzinska Sally Tregellas Wodzinska 2:33 pm 05 Jan 20

They shouldnt touch ANZAC Hall. And surely it's big enough to exhibit what AWM want to and cover contemporary conflicts as well as those past

Marcia Denman Marcia Denman 11:31 am 05 Jan 20

Keep $100m to maintain our beautiful War Memorial - it certainly does not need extending.

Use the other $400m for our bush fire ravaged people and towns xx

Liz Hughes Liz Hughes 9:56 am 05 Jan 20

Absolutely should be held to account. The AWM is a memorial, not a legacy to it’s Director.

Sarah Dee Sarah Dee 9:42 am 05 Jan 20

Absolutely nothing wrong with the current facility.

Robin Verhoeff Robin Verhoeff 9:31 am 05 Jan 20

Ironic.... there's a huge 'heritage' fight to save a building built in 2001 and change a plan that doesn't actually damage any heritage buildings, but meanwhile, dozens of Canberra's first buildings dating from the 1910's to 40's are ripped to shreds and cleared like they're garbage each year and nobody say's a thing. ANZAC Hall is a significant building, but if the grounds for saving it is a 'heritage fight', someone needs to get their priorities straight because if Canberra can't save/protect actual 100 year old buildings (the first buildings that helped to get the city off the plans and made reality) on heritage grounds, then how can you build a case to save a roughly 20 year old building!? Kingston, Griffith, Forrest, etc., Canberra's first suburbs, whole streetscapes of early 1920's-30's buildings flattened and cleared to landfill and seemingly nobody cares but suddenly Canberra 'cares' about heritage now that it's a famous building...

I can understand that there are concerns about how the new building interacts with the original historic war memorial building and I have mixed feelings on the whole project (though what I think of the new project isn't the point I'm trying to make here), but at present this 'heritage' fight is like a battery farm owner donating to animal rights lobbies to show they 'care'; it's just dishonest hypocrisy. People seem only to care about 'heritage' if it's high profile and famous but all the more simple stuff that actually creates the feel and character of the city and makes Canberra a place worth living in and visiting is free to go if the price is right. Canberra as a whole needs to show it actually cares about heritage and put it's money where it's mouth is to protect the dwindling remains it still has before it can whip out that excuse on fights that are only marginally a 'heritage' matter.

Antoinetta Borrello Antoinetta Borrello 8:52 am 05 Jan 20

Truly are selfish people...leave it as it is a War Memorial....shouldn't be touched

David Stephens David Stephens 8:49 am 05 Jan 20

Government is about opportunity cost; choosing to spend money on one objective means it cannot be spent on another. The $500m over ten years earmarked for the War Memorial expansion (essentially the Brendan Nelson Legacy Project) could rent 20 water bombing aeroplanes or 23 water bombing helicopters for 10 years.

David Stephens David Stephens 8:42 am 05 Jan 20

There’s a lot of background material and argument about this issue here: http://honesthistory.net.au/wp/petition-on-change-org-against-proposed-war-memorial-extensions/

Margie Dorman Margie Dorman 8:37 am 05 Jan 20

If it needs upgrading for security and structural safety yes. But that wouldn’t cost $500 mil. Nothing in Canberra is sacred. Everything changed and modernised. History needs to be cherished. Dad did his building apprenticeship at the war memorial. He’d have many stories, just wish he was here to tell them.

Carol Bates Carol Bates 8:27 am 05 Jan 20

Totally agree with above comments. The War Memorial is not our most pressing national priority. Use the money to rebuild what has been lost in the bushfires.

Sarah Emmerson Sarah Emmerson 8:19 am 05 Jan 20

Do we need it this year?

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