Barcaldine Tree of Knowledge Memorial by Brian Hooper Architect and m3architecture, architects in association, won a National Commendation for Public Architecture at the AIA's 2010 National Architecture Awards.
Australian outback towns no longer live “off the sheep’s back” but need to find new ways of inventing themselves. Barcaldine, located in Central Western Queensland, was once famous for the number of pubs fronting its main street, along with the historic tree under which striking shearers established what is now known as the labour movement.
Political foes recently poisoned the tree but its historic significance demanded respect. Barcaldine Regional Council commissioned a memorial. The architects, with vision and tenacity, have created a structure that commemorates, represents and respects the tree, inspiring visitors to consider the significance of this event and this place.
In addition to the building memorial, the architects have cleverly enhanced the structure of the original tree, exposing the root ball below ground in a way that goes beyond preservation.
Such a building is rare in its simplicity. That it has become a destination for contemplation and celebration is testament to the evocative nature of the architecture.
The Tree of Knowledge has brought new life to an outback town in recession. It provides an environment that is fully accessible to the public and shelters a remarkable memory that may or may not be past.
– Jury citation