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New war memorial designs questioned

The project will see a "processional way" built down the grassy bank in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum to Domain Drive. Photo / Supplied
The project will see a "processional way" built down the grassy bank in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum to Domain Drive. Photo / Supplied

As consultation begins on a $3 million World War I memorial in Auckland Domain, a veterans' advocate has questioned the appropriateness of the five shortlisted designs.

The designs were made public yesterday, as Auckland Council seeks a way to commemorate the centenary of the war, which claimed the lives of some 18,000 New Zealanders.

The project will see a "processional way" built down the grassy bank in front of the Auckland War Memorial Museum to Domain Drive.

The public has until January 24 to respond. There will be opportunity for the designs to be changed before the council makes the final decision.

Read more: Concepts for World War I centenary memorial revealed

Fields of Remembrance Trust chairman David McGregor, who has been following the project since its inception, said he was disappointed at the extent to which the concepts had deviated from the original design brief.

"I think they all have their individual merit and they're clearly very professionally presented and that sort of thing. My response to it, however, is that none of them represent the brief," he said.

"The brief for us has always been for this more passive and silent statement, whereas the concepts all involve a degree of modification that I don't think reflects that any more."

The brief states that the proposed feature should be a contemplative "stimulus to reflection" about the effects of conflict on the wider community, not solely on military service.

It should relate particularly to Auckland and all of its people, it says.

Councillor Mike Lee, who chaired the World War One Centenary Memorial Working Party, which worked on the design brief but did not select the final designs, said there was "some surprise" at the emphasis on Maori concepts in all the proposals.

"Which is fine, but it wasn't always clear how the entrants were meeting the design brief requirements which are for a memorial on behalf of the whole community. However, it's important to note that these are concept designs and not final plans. Let's hear from the public," he said.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown urged Aucklanders to have a say.

"There are aspects about each concept that I think Aucklanders will really like. The concepts include ideas that are innovative, like the use of sound, light and percussive sculptures, and there is also widespread acknowledgement of the beauty of our natural environment.

"But this process is not about choosing a specific concept from the five presented, it's about choosing a designer. Public feedback on what works and what doesn't work in each concept will help inform whichever designer we select, so that they can deliver an enduring memorial for the people of Auckland."

Mr Lee said it was hoped the memorial would be completed by November 2018.

Domain designs

The five designs are by:

• Auckland environmental planning and design consultancy Boffa Miskell, with artist Lisa Reihana and Matthews & Matthews architects.

• Australian architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp, in conjunction with Auckland architects Jasmax and designTRIBE.

• Auckland architecture firm Isthmus, with artist Bernard Makoare and landscape architect Jacky Browning.

• Architects Warren & Mahoney, with San Francisco landscape architects Surfacedesign Inc, Rotorua artist Henriata Nicholas, Auckland artist Lisa Reihana and Auckland-based museum and gallery consultancy ObjectLab.

• New Zealand firm Wraight Athfield Landscape + Architecture, with Auckland artist Ross Hemera.

The council will not reveal which firm is responsible for which design, stating it does not want this to influence the decision-making process.

- NZ Herald

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