Architecture students redesign War Memorial
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Auckland, New Zealand – A local War Memorial is undergoing a major overhaul in time for Anzac Day and the Centenary of WWI, with help from three architecture students from the University of Auckland.

Thomas Wenjie Huang, Pete Pei Wang and Tina Tianyue Xie have redesigned the Mt Roskill War Memorial as part of a community competition initiated by the Puketāpapa Local Board following an approach from the Mt Roskill Historical Society. The old Memorial had become run down and was no longer considered a fitting tribute to the men and women who had lost their lives at war.

The Masters of Architecture (Professional) students from the School of Architecture and Planning were motivated to enter the competition to improve the important landmark, because all three are Chinese immigrants who wanted to contribute something to their new country.

The competition’s brief was to preserve, enhance and develop the area so that it would meet the needs of ANZAC Day, while also providing a peaceful haven and place of reflection at other times of the year.

The area, with its rich multi-ethnic make up, many of whom are refugees, makes the War Memorial an important unifying feature for the local community.

The students’ winning design, which beat a strong field of entries, encompasses pathways through the middle of the area forming a giant Cross symbolic of sacrifice and salvation. Coupled with a V-shaped wall engraved with the names of local residents who lost their lives at war, the V’s design is symbolic of a vision of harmony and forgiveness for future generations.

The parade ground around the central cenotaph has also been enlarged and made more accessible to accommodate the increasing numbers of people attending ANZAC Day ceremonies.

Surrounded by tranquil landscaping to promote feelings of peace, the redesign is intended to honour the memory of those who died in war, while also evoking thoughts of a better future.

With considerable input from Council designers, the students’ winning design also connects the War Memorial area to the nearby hall.

Senior Lecturer Bill McKay facilitated the competition and was one of six judges. “This design was a clear winner among several excellent entries because it addressed all the issues of a challenging brief,” he said.

All three budding architectural graduates are looking forward to seeing the new War Memorial when it is formally opened on the 21 April 2015, in time to be used by the public for the first time on ANZAC Day.