The power of memory and places

If I asked you about some of your earliest memories of childhood, I expect you would tell me mostly about people and places.

Most of us can remember the family homes we grew up in. Our homes aren’t just roofs over our heads, they are places of memory as well. They anchor us.

Who we are as individuals and as parts of families, communities and a country is related to people and place.

We need our shared places to anchor us, and to remind us who we are. Our Indigenous Australians have much to teach us about sacred places and their connectedness to memory and meaning.

Tomorrow, millions of Australians will gather in small and big settings in every town in the country – and we will remember.  The memorials, big and small, somehow embody our loss, our shared memory and create a powerful sense of who we are as a people.

Joining those memorials, will be a new one, but not in Australia. It will be in France. Cox Architecture took the lead in designing the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers Bretonneux that will explain the sacrifice and carnage of the Western Front for generations to come. It is officially opened tomorrow – one hundred years to the day since the Australian troops recaptured that town and helped turn the course of a war.

Other memorials are being renewed for future generations. The Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park is currently being redeveloped and it follows the remarkable work at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. The work at the Shrine was recognised with Property Council awards. You can read about the work on our memorials by some of our best architects in this issue.

So tomorrow, we will gather, we will remember – and in a way we will never fully understand, people and place will give us strength and purpose for our times.