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Immigration Place: Leaving Crossing Arriving Becoming 2015

A site-specific design for Immigration Place Australia in the Parliamentary Triangle, Canberra, ACT, by Brigita Ozolins (artist and team leader), Jerry de Gryse (landscape architect and Director of Inspiring Place), and Liminal Studio (architects Elvio Brianese and Peta Heffernan, and designer Tracey Allen).

Our design was shortlisted with 4 other teams from around Australia.


Our team’s philosophy

Immigrants. We leave home, we cross un-charted space and arrive at and enter an unknown land. Over time, we connect with others, our lives intersect and we become different people.  Eventually, over long eras, we become a new people, at one with our new land, our new place in the world. This is the story of Australia's first people and it is the story of the most recent arrivals who have left their home to join our citizenry.

Our Immigration Place takes its inspiration from these ideas - leaving, crossing, arriving, becoming – concepts that resonate with our own experiences as immigrants or as the children of immigrants.   We have aimed to create a place that celebrates the achievements and reflects on the challenges of crossing from one land to Australia in search of a new life.

At its most basic, people coming to Immigration Place leave home and cross a metaphorical divide between there and Australia. They arrive at the ‘island’ landscape our team has created, pass over its boundary and ‘from this time forward’ begin the process of becoming.

‘Lifelines’, the lines of the materials running through the site, represent multiple lives and journeys. A timeless ebb and flow embeds us within the place. Along the way, lives intersect and we come to understand the lyrics of an Ani DiFranco song: I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap. 

Inevitably we are drawn to the centre via multiple pathways. The ritual circle at the core of the site represents becoming Australian.  It is the place where we pay respect to our forbears, meet, celebrate, pledge our connection and share experiences. It is a 'liminal' space between a previous identity and one re-formed through ritual and living in place and structured by our connections to one another.  The imagery and text on the framing walls either side suggest this transition from one state to another. 

Overhead there is shelter, but above there is sky.  The reflective plane of the shelter’s ceiling invites self-reflection about the meaning of immigration to each person.  The embrace of the wall and the terracing of the landform provide for our coming together, to unite and become Australian.

Leaving, crossing, arriving, becoming.  A history all immigrants share.

Architectural drawings, concept images and plans for the development and realisation of Immigration Place Australia in the Parliamentary Triangle in Canberra.

4 X A1 presentations (boards) mounted on 5mm foam core

Downloads & Links

Link to the five shortlisted designs:  Immigration Place Finalists.

Find out more about Immigration Place:  Immigration Place website.

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