Johnson Pilton Walker wins National Workers’ Memorial

Johnson Pilton Walker wins National Workers' Memorial

National Workers’ Memorial winning design is by Sydney based architecture firm, Johnson Pilton Walker.  A memorial is to be established in the Canberra, Australia to honour, and pay tribute to those working Australians who have lost their lives through work-related accidents, incidents or disease. The winning design was developed by Sydney based architecture firm, Johnson Pilton Walker.

Johnson Pilton Walker wins National Workers' Memorial
The winner was selected following a national design competition held from 17 August to 6 October 2011. A total of 26 entries were received. The Memorial represents a workers’ glade nestled into a small rise in the topography of the park.

It features eight slender columns clad in stone unique to the state or territory each represents. Viewed from above, the locations of the columns, laid out like a map of Australia, correspond with the locations of each state’s capital city. The columns provide a place where visitors can leave tokens of remembrance for loved ones.

Concentric rings on the plaza pavement surrounding the columns represent the ‘ripple effect’ a work related death has on family, friends and the local community. The ripples will contain milestones and positive steps taken to improve health and safety outcomes and the prevention of work-related accidents and disease in Australia.

Johnson Pilton Walker wins National Workers' Memorial

The elements of the Memorial include:

  • A meaningful place of reflection – sensitively designed with capacity for commemorative ceremonies, as well as quiet personal contemplation
  • This material may take many forms, such as a chronological list of actions, events, legislation, milestones and quotes relevant to each value, and can be updated over time.
  • The format will be inlayed metal strips, engraved with lettering, following the circular contours of the ripples. This technique encourages exploration of the memorial grounds.
  • Eight tall, slender columns representing the contributions and sacrifice of workers from each state in Australia set in a memorial plaza.
  • Viewed from above, the columns indicate a map of Australia – and the national nature of workplace death.
  • The columns are the tactile focus of the memorial, and provide a personal encounter for visitors.
  • Each column will be clad in granite or other stone, unique to the state or territory that the columns represent. ‘The people of…’ each state or territory will be etched into the column.
  • A plate at the base of each column will be engraved with a statement about work, such as ‘Work and Family’, ‘Work and Skills’ and ‘Work and Safety’.
  • Each column provides a focus for individual reflection, and as a group, they illustrate the influence of work on our lives, communities and nation.
  • The columns, measuring around seven metres in height, will finish below the level of the surrounding existing tree canopy in Kings Park.
  • A low, curvilinear seating wall creating an informal amphitheatre.
  • The opportunity for wreaths and tributes to be placed at the foot of the columns or around the amphitheatre.

Images: Courtesy of National Capital Authority

About Damian Holmes 3274 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at