Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required



Shaping National Memory: The planning of public memorials in democratic capital cities

Memorials erected in national capital cities shape collective memory, identity and values. This project examines how changing design and procurement approaches, specific plans and polices, and the unfolding of history itself shape the aggregate forms, locations and meanings of memorials over time.

In the context of increasing demand for new memorials in most capital cities, this project compares the planning, regulation, design and layout of memorials in the capital cities in eight democratic countries: Australia, Canada, the USA, UK, Germany, South Korea, South Africa and Hungary. It considers the constellation of public memorials within a capital city as prominent, conscious representations of the nation, its history, values and aspirations, and explores how this distinctive dimension of the built environment is shaped by planners, policy-makers and wider public input.

The research combines analysis of historical and current planning documents that influence memorial outcomes, first-hand analysis of memorial sites, designs and themes, and interviews with government officials. It focuses on the local policy contexts that shape the development of individual public memorials and the material outcomes in the urban landscape.

The project is innovative in linking together analysis of democratic governance with planning policy and with symbolic aspects of design and experiential dimensions of urban landscapes. It explores how memorial planning policies and processes directly affect what and who are represented as nationally significant, and what kinds of designs and sites are deemed appropriate for memorials. It examines how different sponsoring groups approach and fare with erecting memorials.

To date the project has produced numerous case studies of individual capital cities as well as several articles comparing their approaches and outcomes, including variations between nations with differing histories of democratic governance.


Research Team
Quentin Stevens, Shanti Sumartojo
Date: 2010- Current
Status: Current