Fitzgerald Frisby: In the aftermath of two world wars, the Footscray community was keen to have those that did not return appropriately remembered. An Avenue of Honour was established along the broad boulevard of Geelong Road in the inner western suburbs of Melbourne. The avenue consisted of hundreds of ash trees with plaques installed at their bases in memory of individuals.
Over the next half century, the broad avenue also became the focus for vehicle traffic, resulting in incremental road widening, intersection modifications and other road works. Inevitably, these works resulted in the relocation, removal or damage to plaques and trees. This project sought to gather all of the remaining plaques together in a stable and respectful setting. This setting is a garden space within the heritage-listed Footscray Park at the end of the original avenue. More than 200 plaques are set into new concrete plinths that are similar in material and scale to the originals. The shape of the new plinths allows them to interlock together to form low walls, evoking the idea behind the avenue of honour – that the sacrifices represented by the individual plaques together create a strong and lasting legacy.
A strong connection to the original Avenue of Honour is created by aligning the plinths to exactly match the alignment of the original avenue, including a kink in the road. The original avenue included trees and plaques on both sides of the road as well as within traffic islands separating the main road from the service lanes each side, and the four lines of plinths in the new space reflect this. A fifth line of plinths contains names known to have existed on plaques that have been lost, as well as flag poles used during commemorative ceremonies.
The project also exposed a section of underlying basalt bedrock in close proximity to the plaques, allowing a visual connection between the geological and historic foundations of the community.
Landscape Architecture: Fitzgerald Frisby
Location: Footscray Park, Ballarat Road, Footscray, Victoria, Australia
Dates: Designed 2011, Construction completed 2012
Client: Maribyrnong City Council
Site area: approx. 1500 square metres
Construction cost: approx. A$300K
Photos by Andrew Lloyd