Family Violence Memorial – Mark Jacques

My name's Mark Jacques, and I'm the Director of OpenWork.

OpenWork is a practice of landscape architects and urban designers, and we've been working together with Muir Architecture on the design of the Victorian Family Violence Memorial. 

It's true that the design of the memorial doesn't look like a traditional memorial.

The kind of memorial you might see outside of a government building or in a war memorial, for instance. That is, it's not a sculpture, it's not figurative. And that's very deliberate. Figurative sculpture is something that makes people focus on one story in a particular way. And what became clear when we looked at the victims and survivors input into the brief is that there is no one story when it comes to family violence. So the design of this memorial doesn't ask people to focus on an object.

It actually asks them to come into a space. And when they're in that space, we're providing all sorts of inputs, seasonal inputs, planting, the ability to look into the distance toward treasury gardens. And those inputs are designed to enable people to reflect on their own experience and the reason why they're in the memorial rather than looking at the symbolism of a sculpture. 

The color Purple is a very deliberate choice. Purple is a color that signifies the movement of the elimination of violence against women and the elimination of family violence. So this idea of embedding that notion in the color of this space is really key part of the design proposal.

One of the differences between the design of this memorial and a more traditional memorial is that this memorial has been designed to change. It's made out of living things. It's made out of plants that will change with the seasons that will grow, that will lose their lives in wintertime, and that will be constantly changing.

The connection between the design of this memorial and the input that we had from the victims and survivors is really two-fold.

The first is that we are making an explicit invitation for people to be in this space. So we've made a room that we think is very beautiful that people can come to and that they can reflect on their experience.

The second idea, I suppose, is that room in the park has been designed with an idea of kindness. For people who come and visit this memorial. We hope that they feel welcomed into this room and that it gives them permission to reflect on their experiences.