Canberra Central Parklands Competition Results National Capital Authority
          Posted by Mario Cipresso

        • Background
          The Canberra Central Parklands Competition was launched in Canberra on the 12th of February 2007, as an international, single-stage, web-based competition for a schematic master plan for one of the principal parklands in the centre of Canberra. The competition organiser was the National Capital Authority, on behalf of the Australian Government.

          The competition was open to professionals in the fields of landscape architecture, architecture and urban planning, in teams or individually. Registration closed on the 23rd of April 2007. A total of 250 registrations from 36 countries were received.

          Image 1 - First Place
          Image 2 - Second Place
          Image 3 - Third Place
          Images 4,5,6 - Random Entries

          The jury's selections and comments:

          First Place
          Oxigen Landscape Architects
          Adelaide, Australia
          The winning scheme proposes a transformation of the site through the development of a series of parkland experiences based on archetypal Australian landscapes: grasslands, woodlands, forest and wetlands. It proposes a gradual, successional, development, retaining key heritage elements within a renewed landscape vision. While the scheme lacks the structural and programmatic simplicity of the second place winner, and would benefit from effective north-south connections with the city, it demonstrates a sensitivity for the site and its ecology which the jury believes provides a compelling basis for the preparation of a master plan. The plan presents a series of very effective visualizations of new landscape spaces within the parklands that are evocative of the potentially enriched experiences of park users. A variety of foreshore conditions are proposed, activating the experience at the water's edge with a range of hard and soft treatments, boardwalks, reeds and natural edges without losing the formal attributes of the existing shore. The proposal demonstrates a real engagement with the idea of a new landscape which responds to contemporary concerns, and celebrates the social and symbolic life of the capital.

          Second Place
          Colin Stewart Architects
          Canberra, Australia
          This scheme re-presents the Griffin's strategy for the central parklands by establishing broad on-grade connections across Parkes Way to Constitution Avenue at the Land Axis, making real connections between the city and its parklands. It is the strongest proposal in its overall planning framework and urban design moves. It demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of the urban structure of the city, the composition of lake and mountains, connected by the Griffin plan. The long term development of the park would benefit from the simple unifying framework of this scheme. Although it shows compelling links with the city and has a boldness and clarity to its urban gestures, it does not engage in a meaningful way with the landscape issues of vegetation, topography and ecological sustainability within the park. The concept of merging architecture and land form to reduce the extent of building footprints is a noteworthy response to the site that would produce a distinctive architecture and sense of place for the parklands.

          Third Place
          EDAW/Eco Engineering
          This proposal embodies a bold strategy for reconnecting the city to its central parklands and reinforcing the deep structure of the Griffin Canberra plan. The scheme undergrounds Parkes Way to reinforce the metropolitan axis and in the process binds the city with the lake and parklands in a way that supports access, amenity and ecological systems. It is not so much a design but a provocation to civilize this edge of the city and realise the potential of an uninterrupted parkland frontage to the city.

          Jury Members:
          Elizabeth Mossop, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA (Chair)
          Sue Barnsley, Sydney, Australia
          Christophe Girot, Zurich, Switzerland
          Stuart Mackenzie, Canberra, Australia
          Robert Schäfer, Munich, Germany

          Judging Criteria: Based on the competition objectives, the key issues identified by the Jury in their selection of the winning schemes were:

          1. Improving connectivity between the parklands and the city, reducing the barrier of Parkes Way and drawing activity from future surrounding developments, particularly Constitution Avenue, proposed under the Griffin Legacy plans;

          2. Establishing a unifying vision for the parklands, which incorporates the special landscape and design heritage of the site and its context, while setting a clear vision for the future based on contemporary, ecologically based landscape development;

          3. Resolving the circulation and access issues for pedestrians, public transit, vehicles and parking; catering for a range of public spaces from large crowds to quiet retreats, and designing a promenade for engagement between the park and the water, and vistas of the central parliamentary area;

          4. Providing a long term strategy for commemorative sites that avoids piecemeal outcomes, and providing innovative public spaces for interpreting Australian cultural and environmental values;

          5. Providing appropriate spaces for major events, recreation infrastructure and buildings and a renewed approach to Floriade as a feature of the park; and

          6. Addressing issues of sustainability, celebrating the natural ecology of the park, managing heritage landscapes while providing for successional planting and species selection in the context of Canberra?s low rainfall, and adopting innovative approaches to stormwater management and the ecological role of the site in the broader ecosystem of Lake Burley Griffin.

          The Jury selected the winning entries through extensive discussion, rigorous debate and careful analysis and evaluation. These entries represent a range of possible approaches to the future master-planning of the parklands, that between them canvas the major issues. The Jury's decision was unanimous.

          All entries and the complete jury brief are available at the official National Capital Authority competition website.

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