Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne VIC, Australia
Australian artists and architects submitted eighty-three designs for the Shrine in 1923. The winning design was by two Melbournian returned-soldier architects, Philip Hudson and James Wardrop.
The inspiration for the external outline of their entry came from one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: the mausoleum at Harlicarnassus to Mausolus, King of Caria in South West Asia Minor, and the Parthenon in Athens. It is a structure of square plan, roofed by a stepped pyramid and entered on the North and South through classical porticoes, each with eight fluted Doric columns supporting a pediment containing sculpture in high relief. The porticos are approached by wide flights of steps, which rise in stages to the podium on which the Shrine sits.
The East and West facing fronts are marked at the corners by four groups of statuary by Paul Raphael Montford, representing peace, justice, patriotism and sacrifice. The Art Deco style and motifs draw on Greek and Assyrian sculpture and the symbolism is Neo-Classical.
The site chosen for this great monument, a low hill on the axis of Swanston Street and embraced by a bend of St. Kilda Road, gives prominence and visibility from all directions and is crowned by the memorial building. High up inside the sanctuary is a small opening contrived so that at the 11th day of the 11th month of each year, a ray of sunlight strikes through to the Stone of Remembrance set into the floor at the centre of the sanctuary.
World War 1 had an immense effect on Australian life and sense of nationhood. The building of the Shrine of Remembrance was a fervent commemoration of appalling sacrifice of life and an assertion of the nobility of the cause for which so many died. Its huge scale reflects the anguish of a generation. The shrine is now a monument that commemorates the lives of Victoria’s men and women given in service throughout the years.
Prompts & Activities
Why do you think the architect used Greek influences in this building? How does it relate to its purpose, and the people who would have occupied it?
In comparison, how is it used today, and is this thinking still relevant? Or does the modern use of the building subvert its history?
How many of the mentioned Greek architectural elements can you see? Can you count columns or other design features? Which types of columns are used, and why do you think this is?
What is your favourite element of this building? Does it have interesting ornamentation? What part does this element play in the overall design of the building, and why might it have been included? You might like to draw your favourite components! Observational sketching is a great way to get a deeper understanding of something.
Explore other landmarks:
Hellenic Museum • State Library of Victoria • Glyn Davis Building • Immigration Museum • Temple of Boom • Parliament House • Shrine of Remembrance • Melbourne GPO • Nicholas Building • Eureka Tower • Greek Centre • Trades Hall • Former Mail Exchange • Collins St Baptist Church • Royal Australasian College of Surgeons • Emily McPherson College