The Strathewen Bushfire Memorial acknowledges the 29 individuals who lost their lives in the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009. It also tells the story of camaraderie and strength in rebuilding the community after the fires.
Urban Initiatives worked closely with Arterial Design for a community-driven memorial design. The memorial takes visitors on the challenging journey of life before, during and after the fire, while taking care to protect them from re-living the horror of the event.
Four circular tear droplets that represent the cycle of life and of healing form the memorial. Each circle describes a part of the community’s journey. The first references stories of Strathewen before the fire. The second (and largest) circle tells the story and tragedy of the event, documents the names of those lost and is inscribed with community-generated poetry on the diverse experiences of heat, wind and fire, loss, grief, rebuilding, joy and friendship. The third circle contains messages of thanks for the support that the community received during and after the fire. The final circle focuses on the future, with stories of renewal and recovery.
The memorial sits in a secluded bushland, significant for its location to the community’s gathering point immediately after the fires. Local provenance planting and materials were selected for their longevity and to integrate the memorial and its story with its natural context.
Extensive and successful engagement and commitment from the design teams to represent every voice, ensured ownership of the project and an enduring relationship between client and consultant. For Urban Initiatives, it has been one of the most rewarding processes we have engaged with in our history as a practice.
Strathewen Community Renewal Association
2013 AILA Victoria President's Award