Client: Open Competition
According to the late Ngunnawal Elder Don Bell, the true meaning of the word "Canberra" is "woman's breasts", referring to the twin mountains of Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain that define the plain in which Canberra was created. Despite this, Canberra is defined around just one primary axis established between Mt Ainslie and Parliament House.
This proposal seeks to re-establish a polyvalent relationship with the ancient Canberran genius loci by forming itself around the intersection of the two major axial lines to Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain, and then adding to this the third and fourth axial determinants of Red Hill and the sky, or Cosmos.
Australia is an ambitious, outward-looking island nation, and this proposal reflects our grounded, “down to earth” persona combined with global outlook in its siting and physical expression. The site itself is the landing point for a soaring structure that leaps out over Lake Burley Griffin and addresses the City of Canberra with a confident, welcoming disposition.
The siting of The Lodge allows the majority of the site to be preserved as landscape setting for perambulation and rehabilitation. The site divides into two equal sized settings on either side of the ridge. To the west, gathered around a private cove, is the “cultivated” landscape, whilst to the east is the protected “indigenous” landscape.
The great copper roof is the defining element of the architecture, as it is of our mineral-rich continent. The roof takes on the familiar gabled profile of historic local structures, including the original worker cottages at Westlake and the Yarralumla Brickworks. This roof form speaks immediately of “home”, but its scale and articulation give the building a sense of purpose and identity befitting its role as The Lodge.
At the primary entry, the great roof cantilever reaches out to a skyward mast from which the Australian flag is flown. The roof is truncated perpendicular to the axis linking the Lodge and Parliament House flagpoles.
Internally, the ground level is given over to public spaces, with the ballroom and dining room occupying the primary eastern and western wings over the Lake. The upper level features the PM's residence and office in separate wings. A great central atrium connects both levels with the sky and is envisaged as a “house museum”, displaying Prime Ministerial art and artifacts from Federation to present day.