Bouygues Bâtiment Grand Ouest starts work on the Sir John Monash Centre at the Australian War Memorial
A new space dedicated to the memory of the war veterans
The new interpretative centre will stand on the site of the Australian National Memorial, a short distance from the Hamel Battlefield. The Sir John Monash Centre takes its name from the general who commanded the Australian forces in 1918. The building is part of “the Remembrance Trail project”, which takes in several other sites stretching from Picardy to Belgium. The Remembrance Trail was established several years ago by the Australian government as a means to explain the role played by that country in the First World War and pay homage to the 46,000 Australians who gave their lives in the fight to liberate France.
On completion, the site will include an immersive gallery, exhibition areas, a multi-purpose space, a café/bookshop and a mezzanine level for meeting rooms and offices, constructed over three levels with a total surface area of 1,600 m². The site anticipates 100,000 visitors, each of whom will receive a multimedia experience as they go through the various interactive areas designed for younger generations, before gathering again in an area for reflection.
A Franco-Australian architectural design
The monumental style of the project was jointly conceived by the architectural firms of COX (Sydney) and JLA (Paris). The interpretive centre will be partly buried in the earth to remind visitors of the trenches of the First World War, and will be covered with a planted roof. To make a lasting impression on visitors, this place of memorial will be built using the best materials: white concrete, timber wall panels from the five regions of Australia, and solid bronze for the interior metalwork and the roof cornice. The courtyard, an imposing monumental staircase, and several of the walls will be clad in very high-quality granite or marble.
The work will be under way for a period of 17 months, but during that time the site will not be closed to the public. All of the centre's buildings will be opened to visitors on 25 April 2018, marking the centenary of the liberation of Villers-Bretonneux by the Australian troops under General Sir John Monash's command.