Lindt Café tribute unites human and civic dimensions of tragedy

On the first anniversary of Sydney’s Lindt café siege, renowned architect and UNSW Professor of Practice Richard Johnson has unveiled his “quietly reflective” memorial design for Martin Place.

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A starburst pattern of flowers in glass cubes will be laid in the pavement of Martin Place. Image courtesy Johnson Pilton Walker

On the first anniversary of Sydney’s Lindt café siege, renowned architect and UNSW Professor of Practice Richard Johnson has unveiled his “quietly reflective” memorial design for Martin Place.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird announced the chosen design, saying the memorial would pay tribute to the survivors of the siege as well as those who were killed.

The aim of the design is to express personal and public sentiments. To be both human in scale and have a civic dimension.

The design features 400 flower symbols encased in glass cubes that will be laid into the granite pavement at Martin Place. Scattered across the plaza in a starburst pattern, the flower cubes will light up at night.

UNSW Built Environment's Professor Johnson said he wasn’t in Sydney at the time of the siege but was was impressed by the public and personal response of the floral tribute.

“The aim of the design is to express personal and public sentiments. To be both human in scale and have a civic dimension,” Professor Johnson said.

The award-winning architect is renowned for his understated work, and has previously designed the Museum of Sydney, National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, the refurbishment of the Sydney Opera House in collaboration with Jorn Utzon, and most recently, the award-winning refurbishment of an historic bank at 50 Martin Place.

Professor Johnson said he hopes the work will be “quietly reflective”.

NSW Premier Mike Baird told The Sydney Morning Herald, “It is appropriate that the memory of community spirit lives on in Martin Place. Professor Johnson has created a symbolic commemoration of our shared grief which recalls the courage of those involved in the siege”.

Professor Johnson studied Architecture at UNSW, graduating with First Class Honours in 1969. He was admitted to the degree of Master of Philosophy following study in town planning and urban design at University College London. A recipient of more than 50 awards, including the Royal Australian Institute of Architecture’s Gold Medal, he is now a Professor of Practice in Architectural Studies at UNSW.

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The glass cubes in the Lindt cafe siege memorial light up at night. Images courtesy Johnson Pilton Walker