Victorian Emergency Services Memorial

Location \ Treasury Gardens, Melbourne
Client \ CFA / Emergency Management Victoria
Duration 2017 – 2020

The brave men and women of our Victorian Emergency Services lay their lives on the line, daily, right around Victoria. Their service and sacrifice is continuous; their courage, bravery and duty of care to others equals their comrades in the armed forces, and their exposure to risk never ceases.

The new Victoria Emergency Services Memorial is crafted from the need to integrate memorialisation of the six Emergency Services Organisations into the historically significant grounds of Treasury Gardens.

For this reason, the design has evolved to become a ‘garden memorial’. This strategy differs from other memorials in Melbourne’s parklands, which are largely sculptures and objects placed into the larger parkland scene.

For this reason, the design has evolved to become a ‘garden memorial’. This strategy differs from other memorials in Melbourne’s parklands, which are largely sculptures and objects placed into the larger parkland scene.

An emphasis on crafting a selection of Victorian stones juxtaposing rough and sawn edges to reveal hand sculpted cast bronze commemorative elements lends a tactile pathos to the Memorial and links to the tradition of stonework in Melbourne’s historic central parks.

The use of native tree ferns in the new Victorian Emergency Services Memorial seeks to graft a natural tension between ‘Victorian place’ (representation of fire-prone Victorian fern environments such as the Dandenong) and the ‘Victorian era’ (Treasury Gardens’ history as a garden of 19th century Victorian era when fern mania was rife and professional and amateur collectors plundered those same forests for Melbourne’s first parks). The palette comprises 97% Victorian species (the only exception being the inclusion of Corymbia citridora as a heritage directive).

The mist fountain is not only for decorative purposes and is temperature controlled to have extended operation times in heat waves aligning to City of Melbourne policy about the provision of cool refuges in public places as a response to our changing climate.

The central plant beds also have a WSUD function as a ‘soak’, planted with rushes they detain and polish overland flows and leaking water from the central pond.

The Memorial eschews the traditional heroics of memorial monuments. There is no one view – the Memorial is an experiential space not an object to be viewed from one key place or any agency given greater prominence than another.

The new memorial will become a place of sanctuary and reflection for members’ families, as they gather either individually or in groups to reflect on the service and sacrifice of their loved ones.

We are honoured that the Victorian Emergency Services Memorial has received an award for Landscape Design in the 2021 TDF Design File Awards. The award jury cited the project as: “A beautiful memorial which focuses on the interactive rather than a solitary monument. It’s a reflective, emotive environment that is respectful and enjoyable Myles Baldwin

Images above and below by RWA and John Gollings.