Design for permanent memorial to Martin Place siege features hundreds of flowers

The permanent memorial to the Martin Place siege will feature hundreds of flowers inlaid into the granite pavement. Photo: Victor.Au The flower cubes in the Martin Place memorial will shine at night in a starburst pattern.

Hundreds of flowers will forever illuminate Martin Place, the site of Sydney’s worst terrorist attack, in a permanent memorial focused on how a city healed itself and defied fear.

The flowers laid by city workers on the morning of Tuesday, December 16 last year, as a shocked Sydney woke to the news that two hostages had died in the night, grew into a sea of bouquets.

Flower stalls ran dry as the people of Sydney solemnly queued to pay their respects to Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson, filing slowly around an impromptu memorial that swelled to fill a block of Martin Place.

Premier Mike Baird will announce on Sunday that the design chosen for the permanent memorial to the Lindt Cafe siege will feature 400 flower symbols inlaid into the granite pavement of Martin Place.

Designed by award-winning Australian architect Richard Johnson, the flower cubes will scatter across the public plaza and shine at night in a starburst pattern.

“This tragic event changed our city and we will forever feel the loss of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson as we go about our daily lives,” Mr Baird said.

“This enduring memorial is intended to pay tribute to the victims and survivors who, by sheer chance, were caught up in that dreadful day. We have worked closely with the Dawson and Johnson families to choose a design that we believe captures the spirit of the outpouring of support we witnessed from people all over NSW.”

Professor Johnson’s design was chosen from a shortlist of four by the permanent memorial panel, Museum of Contemporary Art director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet​ and City of Sydney design director Bridget Smyth.

Professor Johnson 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.

“The design concept creates a quiet, reflective and symbolic memory of the floral tributes left in the days following the siege, while working with the functional surroundings of the very busy pedestrian area that Martin Place is,” Professor Johnson said.

Martin Place will undergo refurbishment as part of a City of Sydney upgrade, as well as the construction of a new Metro station. The siege memorial will be incorporated into the renovation works schedule.

The next step will see an artist selected to design and produce around 400 individual flowers.

Mr Baird, whose office overlooks Martin Place and was a frequent visitor to the flower sea in the days following the siege, said the memorial would be a reminder of the kindness of the people of Sydney.

“It is appropriate that the memory of this community spirit live on here in Martin Place. Professor Johnson has created a symbolic commemoration of our shared grief which recalls the courage of those involved in the siege.”

The first anniversary of the Martin Place siege will be commemorated on Tuesday, December 15 with a public twilight ceremony beginning at 8.15pm.

A special show of light projections onto the Lindt Cafe building will continue for five nights.

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