Introducing: "Pillars: Countries of Origin"

Daniel Hewitt

An interactive digital placemaking installation at Melbourne’s Highpoint Shopping Centre.

Concept & Background

Immigration has been a crucial part of Australia's history, and Melbourne (Naarm) is a city particularly known for its cultural diversity.

In the Western suburbs of Melbourne, the aftermath of World War II brought waves of migrants and refugees from Europe and the Americas. By 1966, almost one-third of the population was born overseas, and the immigrant community continues to thrive to this day.

Concept & Background
The story of immigration is plays a big role in the story of Melbourne's west.

GPT Group, who own and manage the Highpoint Shopping Centre in Melbourne’s west, approached us to explore ideas for an interactive and innovative “Experiential Outpost”. One of the possible themes they suggested was “Countries Of Origin" — a theme that would allow us to work through creative ways to shine a light on the region’s rich history of immigration.

The installation centres around creating a space for people to gather and share stories from their former home through our shared appreciation, and connection with nature (a principle deeply rooted in Australia's history).

Design Concept: A Nurturing Oasis

Our initial concept aimed to create a serene oasis within a bustling shopping centre, providing people with a space to unwind and connect with nature.

Design Concept: A Nurturing Oasis
We explored different arrangements based on creating immersion while allowing foot traffic through.

We settled on a concept of "Natural Landscape Pillars" for our installation, featuring six upright LED pillars that emerged from seating furniture. We explored a series of layouts and arrangements creating an immersive inner zone for people to take a breath and uncover the ‘Countries of Origin’ story, whilst still allowing foot traffic to move through and around the installation.


To enhance the experience further, we've incorporated small, slimline speakers to play custom native soundscapes that pair with each natural landscape.

Reflecting insights from local government reports, we identified five countries to feature: Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Italy, and Vietnam. We also pay homage to the land’s Traditional Owners, featuring the local Maribyrnong river.

The Experience

The Experience

Whether seated around the benches or strolling around the pillars, visitors can appreciate the sight and sound of these beautiful landscapes.

The Experience

To change the content showcased on the LED pillars, visitors can make use of the built-in touchscreen, transforming the space into different landscapes with just a simple tap on the screen.

The Experience
The content for Australia, featuring the local Maribyrnong river, was filmed in the local area.

As you explore, take note of the lively animated ringtail possum hopping around the pillars in the Maribyrnong River footage, which is a nod to the Aboriginal phrase Mirring-gnay-bir-nong, meaning 'I can hear a ringtail possum.'

This installation is a permanent addition to Highpoint Shopping Centre, so be sure to check it out and immerse yourself in the stories of our immigrant community.

Blue Gradient Background