Design 29: Creating a Capital

Published:  March 4, 2013
Heath Killen
Design 29: Creating a Capital

On 12 March 1913 – 100 years ago – the laying of the foundation stone of the commencement column marked the formal beginning of Canberra as a city. Two years earlier, the federal government had announced plans to hold an international design competition for this new capital city.

It’s well known that the winning entry (No. 29) was submitted by husband and wife team Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin (both proteges of Frank Lloyd Wright) however the designs from other entrants in the competition have been rarely seen.

Design 29: Creating a Capital is a new exhibition that displays all the design for for Canberra by the 1911 Federal Capital City Design Competition finalists. These intricate artworks and plans offer a fascinating insight into the Canberras that could have been. The exhibition (designed by Lora Miloloza) will also contain extensive documentation of the design process. A free augmented reality iPad app will alow visitors to discover the arguments, personalities and politics that shaped the national capital and imagine how Canberra might have looked today.

Donat-Alfred Agache, Enumeration of the Public Buildings, 1911. The aim of the architect–urbanist was to promote a social ideal for a city through its design.

Eliel Saarinen, Perspective view: houses of parliament and lake (side), 1911. The trio recognised that the prime view in the capital would be across the lake to Mount Ainslie. A key idea of the design was the 'Avenue of the Sun', leading from Parliament House to the lake, offering views to Mount Ainslie and of the sunrise and sunset."

Walter Scott Griffiths, Robert Charles Coulter and Charles Caswell, Untitled (Perspective view of the lake at sunset)

The exhibition is on now at the National Archives of Australia, and will continue until 8 September 2013



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