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Design Review: Volume 2, Issue 6 (May-June 1950)

Proposed War Memorial for Wellington — A Garden of Remembrance

page 116

Proposed War Memorial for WellingtonA Garden of Remembrance

The winning scheme in the Wellington City Council's Competition, designed byWilliam Toomath, A.N.Z.I.A., Architect, of Wellington, andO. Strewe, Landscape Gardener, of Auckland, in association.

A war memorial should be intimate and sympathetic in its nature, rather than solely awe-inspiring. In this case the aim was a garden in which people would find an atmosphere suited to their mood of recollection.

Seclusion is provided by small sunken gardens set beside the main path. Each garden conveys, by its planting, an impression of one of the regions in which the New Zealand forces were in action. Thus each of the gardens is given a personal meaning for different visitors.

In general, a broad symbolism runs throughout the Garden of Remembrance. Movement past the series of sunken gardens represents the progression through the War to the goal seen ahead. The climax of the garden consists of a pool, an island, and a tall screen, symbolising the navy, army and air force. At the foot of the screen stands a group of young weeping birches, representing the young men killed in the War. The sense of separation and loss is heightened by the intervening water, making the island and screen unattainable by the living. The screen, with pierced panels seen normally against the light, conveys something of the mystical division between the living and the dead.

The ground set aside for the memorial in the Botanical Gardens lies on top of a rounded knoll, with a slope of 20ft. downwards from the entrance end. The overall diagonal layout, and the stepped and sunken gardens, arose largely from following the natural contours of the ground.

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