The Design

The Design

A nation-wide design competition open to artists and designers was held in late 2011, with 208 registrations and 26 entries received. The entries were judged by an independent jury.

The winning design for the Memorial was announced on 14 March 2012 at Parliament House in Canberra.

The winning design, titled ‘Workers Glade’, was developed by Sydney-based architecture firm, Johnson Pilton Walker. The design features a series of tall, slender columns clad in stone, representing each state and territory in Australia.

Each column is symbolically dedicated to the communities, families and workers - the people - of each state and territory and one’s home. The columns are crafted from stone sourced from places as varied as the alpine reaches of Tasmania, to the tropical regions of the Northern Territory. The finishes are smooth to the touch and subdued in the light. Viewed from above, the locations of the columns, laid out like a map of Australia, correspond with the locations of each state’s capital city.

Concentric rings on the plaza pavement radiate out from each column and overlap to form a shared, public plaza. These rings, representing the ripple effect, acknowledge the profound impact work related loss has on communities and families. At the foot of each column is a metal baseplate engraved with a value, from which emanates a series of rings leading to a second engraved inlay with inspiring quotes applicable to each value.  Find out more about each value.

A level plaza and low seating wall provides a place of quiet reflection, refuge from the elements as well as allowing for commemorative ceremonies.

Watch the interview about how the memorial was designed.

‘a profound reverence for life’

Making of the Memorial

On a cool Canberra morning in September 2012, the ground was broken to officially commence construction of the Memorial.

Shortly thereafter, earthworks commenced on the site to level the main plaza and seating area and create the pathway network and bridge linking the Memorial to the main walkways in Kings Park.

The talented team of workers who built the Memorial were sourced from a wide range of industries from all around the country, each bringing their own specialised skills, ideas and experiences to the project.

The prototype for the stone columns was fabricated in Tumut in November 2012. The stone masons, also from Tumut, worked in conjunction with the engineers to develop the stone cladding. During this time, the stone supplier was sourcing the stone from each state and territory with the final stone selection being:

  • Victorian Bluestone.
  • ACT Mugga Porphy.
  • New South Wales Grandee.
  • Queensland Bianca Mist.
  • Western Australian Desert Brown.
  • Northern Territory Darwin Brown.
  • South Australian Balmoral Green.
  • Tasmanian Natone.

In South Australia, the main plaza was developed and poured and then later broken down into transportable pieces to be delivered by truck to the Memorial site in Canberra in February 2012 ready for assembly onto the subslab.

In Brisbane, the value statement base plates were cast and later also delivered by truck to the Memorial site in Canberra.

In Wamboin, in rural New South Wales, the stone columns were engraved with the state and territory names.

Construction at the site in Canberra continued through until early April 2013. The final piece of construction was the commemorative plantings around the seating area and the Blue Gums in the Workers Glade.

Watch the making of the memorial documentary to see how it all came together.

‘different cultures, countries, languages and backgrounds working together’

Action Ring Quotations

A core theme of the Memorial is to commemorate and remember the lives of those Australians that have been lost through a workplace tragedy. As such, imbedded into the design of the Memorial is a selection of emotive, both celebratory and tragic, quotes rippling outwards from the stone columns to demonstrate the effect of individual loss and the range of negative consequences and positive, affirmative actions that have resulted from tragedy.

The quotations, distilled from extensive interviews with those who have been directly affected by a workplace incident, reflect personal responses to loss and grieving.

The quotations are engraved into stainless steel strips, which interlock to reinforce the diverse consequence of workplace injury and death.

'for all Australians’

The National Workers Memorial

Construction process

Last modified on Monday 3 September 2018 [11|421]

South Australia main plaza, Stonemason engraving and Base plate images