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australian national war memorial - france

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World War 1, Villers Bretonneux, France

Australia lost more men per capita of population on the Somme battlefields than any other nation.

In 1936-37 this memorial was built in Villers Bretonneux in honour of that sacrifice.

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and dedicated in 1938 by King George VI, the 6 hectare Memorial site is one of Australia's few monumental overseas historic landmarks. The Memorial itself is an impressive classical masonry structure that displays 11,000 names of 'The Missing', each carved in stone, a lookout tower that is accessible to the public and generous formal landscaping. Additionally, the site features a large military cemetery, monumental stone gate houses and formal gardens.

In 2008 HPA (then Hewitt Pender) were engaged to write a preliminary report on the overall development proposal for an Australian Visitor Interpretive Centre on the battlefields of the Western Front.  This included examination of historical context, multiple sites and a preliminary design brief.  Tom Hewitt assembled a team of eminent military historians to assist with site evaluation.

In 2009 HPA were engaged to fully examine development options for an International standard Visitor Interpretive Centre at Villers Bretonneux Memorial Site.

Four detailed planning options were developed and modelled.  Due primarily to the sensitive nature of the site, modelling involved high realism rendering from multiple view vantage points to test the site impact.  The proposals were designed to an agreed functional brief - each option having to consider significant infrastructure, roads, access, materials, etc.  Each option was presented in detail to key stakeholders.  This was a significant consultancy involving specialists in France, London and Sydney.  The project was costed in detail for both construction and operations. 

The visitor interpretive centre is an 800m2 low visual profile building that is focused on serving its core function, ie. communication of the subject whilst enhancing the visitor experience of the Memorial, in particular providing all weather access for visitors to the tower lookout.

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