Reconciliation Place

Canberra, Australia – National Competition Winner 2001, AIA ACT Urban Design Award 2011 [1], AILA National Landscape Award 2012 [2]


Central to Canberra's Parliamentary Triangle, the winning design for the 2001 Australian Government National Design Competition was 'chosen for its direct and timeless qualities' [3]. The design is vast, intricate, subtle and confronting. A mosaic of fragmented slivers of glass, steel and stone form an east-west promenade along Griffin-Mahony's Water Axis, linking the National Library to the High Court and National Gallery and establishing the horizontal datum envisaged in 1970 by the never-realised 'National Place'. Experience is generated by shifts in elevation, spatial compression and release. Inner corridors are adorned with colour, inscriptions and percolating sounds. At the midpoint, the slivers splice the central mound, a broad convex landform centred on the Land Axis – an outward looking, contemplative space: 'a nexus from which both axes can be viewed simultaneously, and almost ethereally experienced' [4]. The mound is scalloped to provide a shaded rest area. Another slice creates a podium for gatherings and protests. Managed by the National Capital Authority, Reconciliation Place as constructed bears only limited resemblance to the competition winning design.

1. 'Science & Humanities Campus' incorporating Reconciliation Place, submitted by Lahz Nimmo.

2. 'Science & Humanities Campus' incorporating Reconciliation Place, submitted by Spackman Mossop.

3. Jury Report, 'Design Competition for Reconciliation Place', 2001.

4. Christopher Vernon, 'Axial Occupation', Architecture Australia, 2002.

5. Credits: Foreground to lake: Commonwealth Place by Durbach Block. Background: Australian Parliament House by MGT. National Library Fountain by Walter Bunning.

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