A Collaboration between Melbourne practices Sinatra Murphy Pty Ltd and AQL Landscape Design transformed the design of the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Service Wall from a traditional black granite wall with 60,000 gold gilded etched names, to a meaningful visual story that invites an audience beyond those who served. The 85 metre wall is composed of 108 glass art panels that describe Australia’s involvement in the war from 1962 to 1973.
Sinatra Murphy and AQL presented an opportunity to redirect the original design/construct tender for a dynamic working relationship with the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Wall Committee, made up of elected members from the Mitchell Sub branch of Vietnam Veterans. The team combined AQL ‘s twenty‐seven years experience in delivering high quality design and construction projects with Sinatra Murphy’s twenty years experience in acclaimed design, public art and community engagement to empower the Committee in the design process and ensure ownership over the final outcome.
The wall concept was developed through a series of workshops to establish the parameters of the artwork including size, imagery and composition, colour and texture, and sequence. This framework was resolved in accordance with the designers’ proposal to create a modular system of installation consisting of a precast concrete plinth to accommodate each 1500mm wide, 1900mm high and 25mm thick glass panel and approximately 200 poppies. A number of plinth types were designed to create the serpentine alignment, and the original landscape design was adjusted in response to the wall. Once the size of the ‘canvas’ was established the artwork was developed, approved by the Committee, and prepared for lamination in toughened glass.
The wall consists of 106 wall panels divided into two parallel lengths, closed at each end with a title panel and another dedicating civilian organisations and personnel. It is a feature in the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk garden sharing a chronological story of mobilisation; the entry and expanding roles of the Navy and Air Force; the battles of Long Tan, Coral/Balmoral and Binh Ba; the TET Offensive; National Servicemen; life at the base of Nui Dat; the tracker dogs; dust‐off and the medicos; R&R; and going home. The imagery from pictures taken during tour is integrated with the 60,267 names of all Australians who served from the Army, Navy and Air Force. A stand alone remembrance panel pays tribute to the 521 servicemen who lost their lives during the conflict.
IMAGES | Mark Wilson & Phin Murphy
TEXT | Phin Murphy
YEAR | 2013