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The 'Parliamentary Triangle' identified - Canberra

The 'Parliamentary Triangle' identified

The Parliamentary Triangle History/Location Review

Favorite thing: Walter Burley Griffin originated this term, which refers to the area between Parliament House and the lake, flanked by Commonwealth Avenue on the west and Kings Avenue to the east. As a visitor, it is important that you should understand that the buildings here are entirely of national significance - they are here for the nation and in general have no more relevance to the daily life of a typical Canberran than they do for someone from elsewhere. Although there are some office blocks (eg Treasury Department), most are more 'visitor oriented'. But if you see just this area you have not 'seen Canberra'. The area remains under the control of the Commonwealth Government's National Capital Authority, rather than of the ACT Government.

Most newer buildings here were the winners of architectural design contests. I suspect that says much about modern architecture! I am not an architect, so the following descriptions are simply my 'take' on the styles. The pre-war buildings such as Old Parliament House have art-deco style, the 1950s office blocks reflect the 'Stalinist' style of that period, the National Library from the 1960s is retro-classical. Things go downhill with the High Court and National Gallery of the 1980s, which can best be described as 'concrete brutalism'. But however ugly you may find the exteriors of some buildings, the interiors usually are more interesting and are worth visiting.

Hey fellow Aussies, come and look around and feel a bit proud of what's in this area. Rembember that this isn't here just for Canberra and its residents, this (and the War Memorial) is yours: the national bit of the National Capital. Then move a bit wider and see the rest of it.

Fondest memory: Main photo: Parliamentary Triangle from above, with labels - National Library (A); Office Blocks (B1,B2); New Parliament House (C); Old Parliament House (D); 'Questacon' (E).
Second photo: Treasury Office building in 1950s 'Stalinist' style
Third : map of the area, showing position where main photo was taken and direction.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Nov 18, 2006
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Drawing of plan by Marion Burley-Griffin - Canberra

Drawing of plan by Marion Burley-Griffin

Canberra's design History/Location Review

Favorite thing: The city design competion was won by an American, Walter Burley Griffin, whose plan featured a central lake, concentric road systems surrounding smaller hilltops, and long avenues giving vistas between major points of interest. Although Griffin's plan was not followed exactly, and Canberra has long since outgrown the original area, it remains the only fully planned city in Australia and one of the few in the world. It is now proof, if any was needed, of the merits of good planning.
In the illustration, drawn by Burley Griffin's wife, the light area at right top is Mt Ainslie.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 16, 2006
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