The Centre for Design Innovation was commissioned to design and oversee the development of a Korean War Memorial to be erected in Maribyrnong’s Quarry Park, overlooking the Melbourne skyline.
Conceptualising Australia's first public Korean War memorial
Led by Professor Blair Kuys, this project was bought to life by a team of designers, architects and engineers at CDI and steered by the Melbourne Korean War Memorial Committee, with the City of Maribyrnong.
It is the first significant public memorial to specifically honour Australians who served in the Korean War, and the Koreans who fought alongside them.
Our team conceptualised a range of designs, while we conducted extensive research on existing memorials in Korea to shape what would become the centrepiece of Korean war history in Melbourne.
Three designs were developed for presentation, all of which centred around the coming together of the two nations, with traditional fauna and the famed mountains of Gapeyeong depicted throughout.
“The early concepts were designed to take full advantage of the site and were intended to symbolically link Australia with Korea. As a Korean-Australian working on this project, it gives me great pride in what the team were able to execute,” says Dr Jo Kuys, Lead Designer of the project.
A curved bridge design was ultimately chosen, paying homage to the South Korean Taegeuk, while importantly symbolising a link between the two nations.
The interior walls contain powerful stories, statistics and imagery related to the war.
“On the exterior panels the soldiers depicted are looking over the memorial and the Melbourne CBD, symbolising the soldiers looking over the country they represented in conflict. It’s an extremely poignant and powerful image with the instantly recognisable slouch hats - arguably one of the most familiar items associated with our armed forces,” says Mathieu Lewis, Project Manager.
Exterior panels also feature National flowers, wattle for Australia and the hibiscus for Korea.
The internal panels tell the story of the Korean War and Australia’s important role through a combination of quotes and subtle supporting imagery. The stories, sobering statistics, a list of the fallen and explanatory graphics, inform visitors of key aspects of the war.
The poignant images of soldiers on the panels are made up of tens of thousands of perforations, allowing visitors to place remembrance poppies within the memorial.
Paving along the bridge represents both Melbourne Blue stone and Korean Kapyong stone, meeting in the middle to represent the ‘coming together’ of two nations.