The Centenary Project finally realised architect Charles Bruce Dellit’s original vision for two water features through the completion of his concept for a water cascade to the south. Distinguished architectural firm Johnson Pilton Walker designed the Centenary Extension in collaboration with the NSW Government Architect’s Office. New spaces for the community deliver enhanced education and interpretation spaces that enable the Anzac legacy, Australia’s military history and the service and sacrifice of our defence personnel and their families to be interpreted for generations to come.
The original partnership between the English artist George Rayner Hoff, who had migrated to Sydney in the 1920s, and the architect Charles Bruce Dellit has been honoured by the new partnership between renowned Australian artist Fiona Hall and award-winning architect Richard Johnson.
The expansion of the Anzac Memorial was first considered in March 2007. Following a review of the Memorial Trustees’ Vision and Mission statements, the Memorial’s Conservation Management Plan and the Sydney City Council’s Hyde Park Plan of Management, the Trustees developed a brief of the spatial requirements relevant to both the current and future operational needs of the Memorial over the next 25 years. The NSW Office of the Government Architect was commissioned to prepare a concept plan and feasibility study for the potential development of an education and interpretation centre underneath the Anzac Memorial building; the idea was to have work on the project completed in time for the Memorial’s 75th anniversary in 2009.
The Government Architect and the Heritage Architects (now part of the Public Works Heritage Advisory Group), have had a long association with the Memorial as honorary architects and custodians of the Memorial’s original drawings and heritage information, with oversight for ongoing works to the building. Following the Memorial’s State Heritage listing on 23 April 2010, and changes to the Anzac Memorial (Building) Act 1923, the Government Architect was appointed a Trustee.
The Government Architect’s concept included the design and integrated construction of a cascade fountain in Hyde Park, extending along the Memorial’s major north–south axis, from its southern end to the park’s Liverpool Street boundary, based on the original 1930s concept design by Bruce Dellit, the Memorial’s architect.
The proposed education and interpretation centre was intended to support the dual-purpose nature of the Memorial – as both a shrine of remembrance and an education and exhibition facility – through the physical separation of these spaces and recognition of the different qualities they each require. The extension would enable the key functions of education and interpretation to be delivered more effectively. These educational facilities, including a small library and resource centre, were needed to inform and educate schoolchildren as part of their curriculum. Complementary and flexible exhibition spaces would enable the existing exhibition and collection material to be better displayed and allow for travelling exhibitions to be accommodated and viewed in high-standard exhibition environments with adequate storage space. The provision of associated accommodation for managerial, administrative, educational, curatorial, guiding, security and volunteer personnel within a discreet but strategic location was also required in the new structure.
Plans for the extension were put on hold, however, when priority was given to a $6.7 million capital works program of essential repairs, internal refurbishment, conservation works and the development, design and installation of a new exhibition for the Memorial’s 75th anniversary.
In March 2012 the Trustees commissioned the Government Architect to review and update the 2008 education and interpretation centre concept plans and perform a value management assessment on the proposal. The project scope, scale, staging and timing for the education and interpretation facilities and the water cascade, and the various costs associated with construction, were reviewed. Several options for the underground facility were developed. Eventually, the 2007–08 proposals were abandoned in favour of aligning the underground facility and public access to the south of the Memorial.
On 11 December 2013 the Trustees endorsed an option known as E7. It was chosen for providing the best value for money and long-term sustainable outcome for the Memorial. At an estimated cost of $38.3 million, this option called for the construction of two lower ground floor levels skirting the southern half of the Memorial, with the water cascade leading to Liverpool Street doubling as a new entry point into the Memorial at that level. This plan rationalised the configuration of spaces: there would be one lower ground floor area to serve as the entry and public spaces (including education and exhibition spaces), and another lower floor level to be used as exhibition spaces; in addition, there would be a consolidation of staff offices and amenities. Option E7 also reused the Memorial’s ground floor level areas as an exhibition and interpretative space, while retaining some of the existing office spaces for community and volunteer use.
The project was approved by State Cabinet in July 2014. It was envisaged that it would serve to complete the original 1930s concept design by architect Bruce Dellit delivering a contemporary interpretation of his intended water cascade to the south of the Memorial, and additional education and interpretation spaces to inform current and future generations about those Australians who have represented the nation and made sacrifices in wars and conflicts, with a particular focus on the NSW story.
On 4 August 2014, as the world marked 100 years since the Great War began, the NSW Government announced the project as the centrepiece of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Commemorative Program and committed to providing $20.3 million towards it.
At their 12 February 2015 meeting the Trustees endorsed revised project objectives to give greater focus to the Memorial’s economic sustainability, partnerships and collaborations to ensure cost-effective management of resources. Key objectives were protecting the Memorial’s role as the principal war memorial in New South Wales and ensuring that its solemnity as a place of remembrance was maintained; continuing to enhance the returned services associations’ links with the Memorial as a living monument; and enhancing the Memorial’s potential to inform and educate current and future generations by establishing education spaces and informative education programs.
In early 2015 the Commonwealth Government recognised the project as one of national significance and committed $19.6 million from the Anzac Centenary Public Fund. The CoS also spent $7.5 million towards the upgrade of the existing Pool of Reflection and associated works in the southern part of Hyde Park.
At the time of funding it was recognised that the appointment of a principal design consultant, to work with the Government Architect, was a priority. It was agreed that an eminent architect with experience in complex heritage projects in the Sydney CBD should be engaged through a direct negotiation process. The Trustees recommended that Richard Johnson, Founding Director of Johnson Pilton Walker (JPW), be considered as the architect for the project. JPW’s significant experience in the design of public and cultural spaces, including memorials, underpinned their final selection as the nominated supplier for the project.
The project’s design concept was launched by the NSW Premier, the NSW Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, a Commonwealth Government representative and the Trustees at a media event at the Memorial on 19 July 2015, the anniversary of the laying of the Memorial’s foundation stones and the date of commemoration for the battle of Fromelles. Notably members of the Dellit family were present to acknowledge the intent to complete Bruce Dellit’s original design concept.
A new forecourt at Hyde Park’s Liverpool Street entrance would allow for equitable access to the park and new underground education and interpretation facilities. Memorial visitors would enter the new Hall of Service (named to mark 100 years of military service since the Great War) via a walkway through the water cascade. The hall would function as a greeting and orientation space for the public, including tour groups and schoolchildren, and as a venue for ceremonies and functions, flowing onto exhibition galleries and education facilities.
On the northern edge of the Hall of Service, opposite the walkway, a set of stairs and inclined lifts were planned to take visitors up to the ground floor of the Anzac Memorial and the Hall of Silence, where the sculpture Sacrifice stands. An oculus, an architectural reference to the Well of Contemplation in the existing Hall of Memory, would be centred above the Hall of Service providing a view out to the Memorial’s exterior.
The new spaces were to be finished with high-quality materials: contemporary equivalents of the noble and honest materials used for the original building. The refurbishment of the existing Memorial ground floor and basement areas would restore original layouts and pay respect to the significant heritage of the Memorial.
The development application process
The Government Architect engaged urban planning consultancy group MG Planning to prepare the development application. Although not requiring development consent by virtue of the provisions of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (Infrastructure SEPP) the Trustees desired to work collaboratively with the City of Sydney as a Trustee to achieve the works and opted to seek approval through a DA to the CoS. The Memorial extension below ground and works to the existing building was the subject of a DA under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). Construction of the water cascade to the south and the associated temporary and long-term landscape changes to the park to accommodate the cascade affecting existing paving, plantings, trees, memorial plaques, light poles and changes to park access were subject to assessment under Part 5 of the EP&A Act and a review of environmental factors also had to be performed.
A team of consultants, including JPW, Government Architect, MG Planning, Tree IQ and Australian Museum Consulting (to assess arboriculture and Aboriginal cultural impacts respectively) and Morris Goding Accessibility, prepared the Review of Environmental Factors (REF). They found the cascade works would result in a positive transformation of the landscape of Hyde Park and allow for greater appreciation and experience of the Anzac Memorial. The proposed water cascade and other landscaping were seen to enhance the visual quality and recreational experience for the community in this section of Hyde Park.
The Local Government Act 1993 requires a Plan of Management to be prepared for all public land that is classified as ‘community’ land under that Act. Hyde Park is classified as ‘community’ land and therefore a Plan of Management is in place to guide its management and use.
The Hyde Park Plan of Management and Master Plan (the PoM) was first adopted by the CoS in October 2006. It identifies management objectives for the park to ensure that the park is managed and maintained at a standard appropriate to its significance and remains a safe and accessible environment. The plan also outlines how events in the park are to be managed to minimise impact and how to maintain the public’s awareness, participation and consultation in the use, management, planning and development of the park and its resources.
The REF was accepted by the CoS and the Development Application was determined by the Council on 4 May 2016.
Procurement and appointment of the contractor
Tenders for construction of the Anzac Memorial Centenary Project were released to market on 8 April 2016 and closed on 26 May 2016. Public Works reviewed and assessed the submissions in accordance with the tender evaluation plan and confirmed Built Pty Ltd as the preferred tenderer for the contracted works. The tender recommendation passed through an independent tender evaluation review panel within NSW Public Works and was also subject to a NSW Government Gateway Review. Brian Baker, Deputy Secretary, NSW Public Works, subsequently approved the review panel’s recommendation.
Improving a civic space
The project’s architects and the City of Sydney (CoS) identified five trees for removal and one for relocation in the Memorial precinct. All were approved by the CoS’s Tree Management team as part of the Development Application process.Two Hill’s weeping fig trees (Ficus microcarpa var. hillii) at the Liverpool Street entrance to the park were in poor condition owing to their position close to the park’s boundary wall and were removed in line with the CoS’s PoM to improve accessibility for all users of the park. Two smaller trees – an Aleppo pine and a Queensland firewheel tree – were also removed owing to their poor condition. The Aleppo pine was replaced during a ceremonial planting to mark the Memorial’s opening.
One large Hill’s weeping fig tree, which was located to the south-west of the Memorial, was preserved and moved 15 metres. This was a key decision of the Trustees to remove the risk of damage to the tree during construction, and to maintain the integrity of the original 1930s design. The relocation respected Dellit’s design, which sought to enhance the monumental nature of the Anzac Memorial by ensuring it was surrounded by clear, open space, thereby allowing striking views from the surrounding city. Specialist consultants were engaged who compiled reports on transplant methodologies, arboriculture impacts and soil assessments.
The direct character of the materials and composition of the existing Memorial focused the design team’s attention towards concrete and stone as the most appropriate contemporary materials to convey
the same character in the Memorial’s Centenary extension. While the precast concrete and stone are the main materials, they are complemented by the choice of Jarrah timber floors, joinery and ceilings, bronze detailing, and glass. The full material palette works together by complementing and contrasting relationships.
The decision to use precast concrete rather than in situ concrete was to enable better control of the quality of finish and meet the tight construction program. Matteo Salval (JPW) noted, “We have expressed precast elements directly and honestly: detailing around these elements always tells the story about how that element works structurally or how it got assembled on site”.
The final precast finish is the result of a thorough sampling process. Different quantities of titanium oxide were tested with an off-white cement mix. The result is a warm, yet crisp finish that reveals different tones when exposed to natural light, depending on the time of the day, the weather or the season. JPW and Brisbane-based firm Precast Concrete Products shared their knowledge of the material, and the care taken to create the crafted sandblasted steel moulds was instrumental in achieving the best outcome for the Memorial. Handling and placing were carefully considered during the design of these elements and balanced against architectural, sequencing and program requirements.
The warm tones of the precast concrete informed the choice of the limestone used for the Hall of Service floor and the cladding to the new stairway that joins the Hall of Service to the Memorial. The limestone’s depth, warmth and honed finish contribute to the diffusion of natural light in the Hall of Service in a very special way, once again enhancing the qualities of the precast material. Limestone paving patterns were designed to work rigorously with the building. In the Hall of Service, however, the use of opus incertum (irregular work) paving is a direct reference to the Hall of Memory and Hall of Silence.
The design of the water cascade was driven by considerations relating to the existing Memorial and its cladding. It was critical that the new granite complement the existing Tarana granite, a stone that is no longer quarried. Extensive research and testing led the project team to a granite called Desert Brown, from Esperance in Western Australia.
Through its honed and exfoliated finishes, the stone conveys a sense of grounding and solidity, both in its cladding application and in the stone pieces used to create the cascade steps. When water runs over the stone’s serrated edges, the crafted nature of these elements is revealed.