The Vietnamese community has been advocating for a memorial for some time and the initiative has the support of the Illawarra Vietnam Veterans as well as the RSL. Edmiston Jones was invited to design the memorial which will be located in Wollongong’s MacCabe Park to the west of the existing war memorial on Church Street.
The South Vietnamese Community were donated a granite stone slab to form the basis of the memorial. With the slab and a plaque as the centrepiece, the design challenge was to support the stone in an elegant manner. The design also needed to meet the practical requirements of being visible in the midst of a large gathering and to have space for wreaths to be displayed.
The granite slab will be positioned on a plinth formed by three chamfered steps on each side of the memorial. The supports for the heavy granite slab needed to be robust and able to resist abuse. Structurally, the angled and tapered stainless steel posts form a triangle with the granite providing the maximum support with the minimum of material. Visually, the angles catch the eye and subtly allude to the drama of war.
Respecting the Vietnamese culture, provision was also made for an urn in which incense can be burned. For security, the urn is removable and the design includes a separate plinth for this purpose.
The proposed memorial is an appropriate addition to the public park and will serve to add to the level of activity in this under utilised area of the city. There is the potential for the memorial to become a tourist attraction adding in a small way to the commercial sustainability of the city. Most importantly, the Vietnamese War Memorial recognises the historic links between cultures in our diverse community.