We are thrilled to announce this year’s deserved winner for the Future Projects Commercial Award 2015 is CHROFI McGregor+Coxall for their incredibly unique project Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary – Congratulations!
The winner was selected from a final short list of six projects which were chosen by our experienced and esteemed jury panel: Mike Lampard, Design Director of Corstorphine + Wright, Robin Partington, Managing Partner of Robin Partington & Partners and Paul Makowicki, Principal of CallisonRTKL. The judges enjoyed viewing the brilliance of design and visions held by the six shortlisted projects, but on the day they were in complete agreeance on the final winner.
This fascinating project has transpired due to Australia’s becoming a more secular society and along with this, their attitudes to death and dying are changing. This shift in personal beliefs and philosophies is challenging the existing funeral industry and traditional cemetery establishment.
Acacia Remembrance Sanctuary is located within the idyllic setting of a conservation woodland area on the outskirts of Sydney Australia. Pioneering a new cemetery model from the outset, the design team together with the client sought to challenge what a contemporary cemetery could be. The response was to create a site-wide experience with a specific focus on natural burials without headstones. Being the first of its kind in Australia, the memorialisation becomes the retention and protection of this unique bush ecology where GPS technology is used to locate the resting place of loved ones. Continuing with this wonderful ecological response and integrated into the design, are a suite of sustainability initiatives which create an ‘off the grid’ facility placing it at the forefront of self-sufficiency and eco-friendly development in the Australian cemetery industry.
The experience of the visitor begins at the entrance where an elevated walkway meanders above the landscape through the tranquil native park leading to the Walled Garden. Visitors experience a dignified transition to this ‘other world’ through a threshold comprising of vine covered gabion walls and a rippling line of water that enlivens the powerful entry corridor. Paul thoughts were, “It’s the most carefully crafted of all of the projects. I am intrigued by somebody who is re-looking at something that is an incredibly difficult subject. You’re dealing with some of the most difficult personal circumstances, you’re dealing with multi-denominational issues and how you can make this an incredibly successful commercial project. They have taken a sensitive issue and site don’t forget, and this has to be a commercial entity, but they have thought through every, single, facet. It pulls off so many clever tricks for me, and so is that appropriate about an award for commercial sense? I think it is. Because it is exactly what you are trying to appeal - mass market appeal. This is a charming scheme, a balanced, charming scheme.”
At the heart is the Gathering Place - a multi-purpose open-air pavilion framed by a reflective pond and surrounding picturesque gardens. An adjoining café invites visitors to enjoy a quiet landscaped courtyard with picturesque views and moments of peaceful reflection. Mike stated, “They’ve tried to create a place that is quite calm. It’s got all the components hasn’t it? It’s a setting for a place of quiet contemplation. It’s a nice scheme, it looks like it has been well considered, and it’s in a very beautiful setting. With these sorts of places, they are not always a place where you want to be through choice. But then as time passes along with anniversaries, you go back there, so it sort of has to work on a number of different levels and I think that this could. I think that from a scheme design, from an approach and from a feel about it, I think that this is a great scheme.” Paul also agreed stating, “Evocative, contemplative, "treading lightly on the surroundings” a potentially emotionally charged program that has been handled deftly”
We would like to thank not only the jury for sharing their time and experience, but all those who entered into the Future Project Commercial Award 2015, making it a fantastic success.