PointOfView Lighting enhances architecture of ANZAC War Memorial with strategically placed LED spotlights

Aug. 29, 2014
Lighting the Souls of the Unforgotten

It’s profound how, more often than not, it’s the small things that have the biggest impact.

As you approach the steps leading up to the ANZAC War Memorial located at the southern end of Sydney’s Hyde Park, you can’t help but be impacted by a 30 cm by 40 cm sign that reads, ‘please do not sit on the steps, cctv in operation’.

The uninitiated and the unknowing may well ask, “why not, they’re just steps.”

But that’s the point. They’re not just steps. They’re the entrance to something very special.

It’s the State Memorial to all Australians who served their country in war. As such it occupies a particularly important place in the hearts and minds of all citizens. The brief to re light it was a pleasure, such bold architecture leads a design direction, technically lighting each element without imposing on the building with visible light fixtures was a challenge. But when it came to installing degrees of feeling, raw emotion, subtlety and reverence, the degree of difficulty was off the scale.

The building itself is the result of a design competition held in 1930. The winner was a 32 year old Sydney born architect named Bruce Dellit. He trained at Sydney Technical College and then Sydney University and was a leading proponent of the then popular, Art Deco Style.

His ideas originally included four bronze sculptures to adorn the memorial’s exterior, one for each corner representing ‘The Four Seasons’. A further 16 seated figures, four per side, would signify the ‘The Arts Of Peace and War’. The concept of bronze gave way to cast granite to provide the impression the figures were hewn from the building itself. As Dellit himself said, “The figures, heroic in size and broadly sculptured in sympathy with the architecture are shown with bowed heads, as if resting after their labors and sadly contemplating the havoc of the war years”. The bas-relief panels on the memorials eastern side illustrate the military’s eastern campaigns while those on the west depict the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) actions on the western front.

"This is not the type of structure you add to or take away from lightly." said PointOfView Senior Lighting Designer, Amara Clarke.

The Memorial requires that you spend so much quiet time just sitting and absorbing the atmosphere before you raise even one finger to change it. It had however, spent the past 80 years or so, hidden at night, in its quiet corner of the park. So change was needed.

PointOfView were originally briefed over three years ago to redesign the lighting for the memorial. The plans were subsequently put on hold, to be revived for the ANZAC Centenary.

“In a way” said Mark Elliott, Principal of PointOfView, “This project is a living example of how far lighting has come in such a short period of time. Back then we would have used metal halide and the result would have been excellent. But today with the control we can impose on the LED spots used, the vision is truly remarkable.”

The new design focuses spots of light on each of the statues using existing pole locations. Now under the cloak of darkness they have a presence that was previously denied them.

“The use of artificial light and shadow on a building enables us to sculpt the architecture by focusing only on key elements such as the buttresses and the Zagarat atop the memorial. The availability now of LED fixtures of such a small scale means that we were able to integrate lighting to anchor the corners of the building, something that would not have been possible at the time of the original briefing.” says Mark.

While the old brief for re lighting the ANZAC War Memorial was instigated over three years ago the recent new brief required delivery in six weeks in readiness for the looming 2014 ANZAC Day.

“This project is testament to what a talented and dedicated team can deliver within a strict deadline and under a strict government imposed budget”, commented Mark Elliott, Principal at POV.

“I guess it will require more siting time” says Mark finishing up, “this is a building that will occupy the thoughts of hundreds of thousands of people for centuries to come. We will get it right.”


Al Crew - for PointOfView


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