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. 

Featuring a metropolis design which doubles as the railing of the bridge, the memorial rises up with a view of Melbourne’s skyline from the west, with a pair of teardrop shaped gardens alongside the bridge to replicate the famed ‘Yin-Yang’ design native to Korea. 

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. 

Soldiers attend the unveiling to honour those who served in the War.
  • “It was extremely humbling to see the effect of what the memorial meant to people at the opening. Seeing people become extremely emotional as they walked through the memorial, pointing out names they recognised in the names of the fallen, really hit home for me that this is clearly more than just metal, stone and concrete. This is now a place of remembrance.”

    Mathieu Lewis , Project Manager, Melbourne Korean War Memorial

A public unveiling of the Memorial 

The Melbourne Korean War Memorial was formally unveiled in 2019. Korean and Australian war veterans attended. Korean Consul-General Mr Sunghyo Kim gave the Welcoming address. 

Mr Jong-gon Choi from the Korean War Memorial Committee and Mr Tom Parkinson, President of the Korean War Veterans Association shared introductions and reflections on the importance and significance of the memorial. Dignitaries from Korea, Greece, the United States, France and local councils and Victorian State government representatives attended. 

Project timeframe


Design team

  • Soldiers standing in front of the Melbourne Korean War Memorial
    A ceremony is carried out at the unveiling of the Memorial.
  • View of panels along the Melbourne Korean War Memorial
    Perforated panels allow visitors to place remembrance poppies within the Memorial.
  • Aerial shot of the Melbourne Korean-War-Memorial
    Teardrop shaped gardens alongside the bridge are an ode to the Korean Yin-Yang design.
  • Korean War Memorial with skyline in view
    The Memorial overlooks a stunning view of Melbourne’s skyline and CBD.
  • Wide shot of the Melbourne Korean War Memorial
    A wide shot of the Melbourne Korean War Memorial.
Korean War Memorial Video

Korean War Memorial Video

This video from the Urban Design Architecture program at Centre for Design Innovation (CDI) demonstrates the results of one of their key projects, the Melbourne Korean War Memorial.

See more projects from the Urban Design Architecture program

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