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This occasion was a fascinating discussion with the award-winning architect of Australia’s Parliament House, Aldo Giurgola and colleagues Hal Guida and Pamille Berg, about the challenges and opportunities of integrating the design of Australia’s Parliament House with Walter Burley Griffin’s original vision for the national capital.

The three architectural colleagues provided a wealth of candid reflection on their planning of Parliament House.

Romaldo Giurgola listed order, simplicity, human relationships, humanity, symbolism and the natural environment as objectives. He aimed for the health and wellbeing of the people and not Texas-style ‘vibrancy’ and above all not ad hoc planning. He abhors ‘conversations’ that never end, instead of genuine community engagement based on leadership vision, public interest criteria and model demonstration. This long term visionary and design approach has given way in Canberra to timid government reaction to developers.

He believes Canberra has reached a critical point where urban planning has become ad hoc and default. To keep its character alive, Canberra must take a knowledgeable, intelligent, regional and community wellbeing approach.

While all three panelists spoke frequently about Griffin’s fundamental and lasting influence on their work, the moderator Tony Powell studiously tried to marginalise and misrepresent Griffin.
Romaldo Giurgola continues to be an active member of the Walter Burley Griffin Society.

Designing for Canberra – notes by Brett Odgers.pdf