Strathewen Bushfire Memorial

, Strathewen, Victoria

Client: Strathewen Community Renewal Association

Type: Remember, Victoria, Community memorial

Year: 2012

Awards: 2013 AILA Victoria President's Award

Staff: Dylan Dodds, Katherine Masiulanis, Tim Hart

Working in conjunction with: Arterial Design

Saturday February 7th 2009 marked the most intense and destructive bushfire white Australia had ever seen.
Urban Initiatives worked closely with Arterial to design an appropriate place for the community to remember the events of that day. The memorial is intended as a private place for residents to remember not just the 27 Strathewen people who lost their lives on Black Saturday, but also their animals, homes and the surrounding landscape.
A simple concept of four water 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 allude to the ripple effects of the fire on the broader community. Each circle carries its own theme of beauty, loss, rebuilding and hope and rejuvenation. Individual stories from community members were sourced and quoted to build a collective commemorative voice.

2013 AILA Victoria Award Winning Project 

JURY CITATION

This is a remarkable project. The work of Urban Initiatives and Arterial Design is an extraordinary gift to the community of Strathewen, to those who have been lost and to those who remain and face the challenge of rebuilding their lives. Tragically, the town of Strathewen with a population of only 250, lost 29 people in the Black Saturday Bushfires. The courage of both the designers and the community members in beginning the journey of healing and then holding fast to the create their memorial together is both inspiring and humbling.

The Jury acknowledges the countless hours, dedication and commitment this project asked of the designers. The contribution you have made to a community who has lost so much inspires us all.

 

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"This project had enormous potential for community disharmony, yet from design to completion we did not receive one negative comment. It was a peaceful experience thanks to the sensitivity of all those involved. The Memorial designers displayed a level of respect, empathy and collaboration with the community, our Memorials Sub Committee and Project Governance Group which in my experience is very rare." Malcolm Hackett Chairperson, Strathewen Community Renewal Association