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Shortlist for French memorial at Pukeahu revealed

News: 2 August 2016

Four proposals inspired by a creative dialogue between France and New Zealand will undergo further consideration from a jury made of French and New Zealand members before the winning design is announced in November.

An exceptional 43 entries were submitted by New Zealand and international teams in response to an architectural competition launched by the French government on April 25th. The winner, to be announced on 11 November 2016, will be commissioned by France to design the memorial to be erected at Pukeahu National War memorial Park at the invitation of the New Zealand Government.

Designs referencing trenches of the Western Front, the Carrière Wellington in Arras, shared experiences of war and peacekeeping and French war poetry were selected by a five member jury at a meeting on July 20.

“We received 43 proposals, a fantastic response which shows how deep this initiative resonates with the French and New Zealand public,” said the French Ambassador, Florence Jeanblanc-Risler.

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Patterson Associates Ltd Architects with Paul Baragwanath designed “Le Calligrame”, whose “spatial composition consists of three elegant components, soft landscaping, a honed plinth, and an intricate floating tabula. Narrative engagement is augmented by an audio and light presentation. Five stanzas raise lives above the earth and into our consciousness, creating space to encounter the blank loss of war with the hope of today, provoking a deeply spatial, temporal and emotional engagement integrated into the experience of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.”

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Designers of “L’Arc de Paix -The Arc of Peace”, comprised of team members Kingsley Baird (artist) and Adam Flowers (CCM Architects) with Professor Annette Becker (French historian), Allen Wihongi (Maori cultural advisor) and Alistair Cattanach (Structural Engineer), said “L’ Arc de Paix - The Arc of Peace memorial acknowledges the enduring friendship between New Zealand and France forged by shared experiences of war and peacekeeping and the two nations’ deep cultural affinities. Recognizably French qualities are expressed in the design, materials, and symbols. As a ‘living monument’, the experiential nature of L’Arc de Paix is enabled via visitor engagement with the memorial’s features”.

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The team behind “Carrière de mémoire – Quarry of Memory” led by Andrew Sexton Architecture explained “a series of underground quarries in France, named after New Zealand towns and cities, have offered the inspiration for a memorial which brings these New Zealand named impressions protected under French soil to the surface at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. The memorial is to be experienced from any vantage point, and seeks to encourage visitors to move around and through, inviting participation and exploration. The memorial aspires to have an enduring attachment to the French terrain”.

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The entry “Les Fleurs Sauvages”, proposed by Richard Ainsworth, Amanda Bulman, Nick Denton, Hamish Moorhead, Jake Yocum, and Nicolas Zillio is based on the idea that “the memorial reflects on the bleakness of war, confronting the soldier’s plight. The trench holds memories, of a shared life and death. The beauty and fragility of the materials commemorate the human bonds that write this history. The visitor is allowed a glimpse into this space: they are invited to occupy it”.

The finalists’ proposals will be exhibited to the public at the Great War Exhibition in the former Dominion Museum, Wellington,) between mid-October and mid-November 2016 (exact dates to be advised).

Ambassador of France to New Zealand Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, New Zealand Registered Architect Stuart Gardyne, French Ministry of Defence Director for Remembrance, Archives and Military Heritage Myriam Achari, France/New Zealand Friendship Fund board member and former New Zealand Ambassador to France Sarah Dennis and Member of the French First World War Centenary Commission’s Scientific Committee Professor Yves Le Maner considered the entries.

The shortlisted concept proposals must now be developed. The winning team will have a budget of $570,000 to complete the memorial, which will be built in 2017 and inaugurated in 2018.

The Ambassador, Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, says “The shared sacrifices of New Zealand and French soldiers left behind a strong foundation on which we have kept building our friendship to this day. For France, this memorial represents an opportunity to further unite our countries by giving our shared memories a material form. The projects themselves have also generated some impressive collaboration between the joint French and New Zealand team members.”

Stuart Gardyne says “The four shortlisted submissions reflect the diversity of design solutions entered. Each one demonstrates a very different and unique approach to remembrance and the memorial typology”.

All the teams included New Zealand registered architects. New Zealand Institute of Architects chief executive, Teena Hale-Pennington, says

“We are delighted to be collaborating with the French Embassy on this design competition and have been very impressed with the strong interest in the competition and the quality of entries. Design competitions are a way of recognising that architecture matters. They can provide a mechanism for architects to illustrate the value and creativity they can contribute to an important project. In this case, the many teams that responded have shown how, in different ways, strands of history and culture can be woven into a cohesive design response.”

The competition is endorsed by the New Zealand Institute of Architects and takes place in close collaboration with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Wellington City Council. The French Embassy in New Zealand is extremely grateful to these partners for their support and guidance, as well as to Rider-Levett-Bucknall Inc., Auckland for generously sponsoring the competition by offering free-of-charge quantity surveying.

The winning project will be announced on November 11, Armistice Day.


On the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of World War I, and at the invitation of the New Zealand authorities, a French memorial will be inaugurated within the Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington in 2018.

Pukeahu is administered by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage on behalf of the New Zealand Government The design of the memorial, a gift from France to New Zealand and its people, prioritise creative dialogue between the two countries.

This arises from the strong belief that a memorial representing the relation between the two nations should have its main characteristics and purpose designed collectively, through a collaboration uniting French and New Zealand representatives

from civil society. In that regard, and in order to reflect upon the general context and spirit under which this memorial should be designed, a France/New Zealand symposium took place in France from 6 to 12 December 2015. Its purpose was to establish the creative brief of the memorial, in regards to aesthetics, design and remembrance purpose. The work of this symposium was itself based on the material gathered through a series of interviews with more than 30 New Zealand personalities (artists, historians, designers, writers, and prominent New Zealanders involved in the commemorations of the Great War).

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Updated on 31st August 2016