Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretonneux in France
Terrace paths have now been laid, completing an original feature of Lutyens’ design. These paths will lead visitors from the tower to its two pavilions where they will discover the entry ramps leading down into the Sir John Monash Centre.
The trench-like experience will continue as the ramps lead into a dark and sombre foyer. The descent into darkness will be “a critical part of the experience”. The path will then lead to an immersive gallery space and visitors will exit the space via a sunken courtyard up onto a landing with a view of a landscape that was once the battlefield where the Australian general Sir John Monash famously won victory.
A key feature of the design is the triangular oculus which punctures the meadow-roof of the proposed building, which can be seen from the top of the tower. From inside the proposed new centre, the shape of the oculus is a function of the triangulated, coffered concrete ceiling but also, as Agius explained, “put really simply, it opens up in the direction of the tower and allows the best view of it.”
Designed by Cox Architecture, the approximately 1,000 square metre Centre will be half sunken into the ground and with a turf roof to ensure a harmonious relationship to the Memorial and landscape.
This cutting-edge multimedia centre reveals the Australian Western Front experience through a series of interactive media installations and immersive experiences.