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Unit 4
Your National Capital

Debate on Capital Hill

Setting the scene

Walter Burley Griffin's original design for the National Capital called for a grand construction on the peak of Capital Hill. ‘The Capitol' was to be a striking architectural creation that could be viewed from many parts of the city. It would commemorate the achievements of Australians in literature, science, art, politics and much more. Parliament House was to be located below the Capitol building on Camp Hill, a spur of Capital Hill, and a natural platform for an important building to both unify and dominate the government buildings located below within the Parliamentary Triangle. The elevated location of the Capitol building, compared to Parliament House, was to symbolise the fact that in a democracy, the people should always stand above their elected representatives.

This deliberate design placement by Griffin was radical for its time. After Griffin's resignation as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction in 1920, debate about a permanent Parliament House and its location was virtually unheard of from the time of the opening of the Provisional (Old) Parliament House in 1927 through to 1957, when the Joint House Department began discussing likely sites for the new Parliament House. It was eventually decided that Parliament House should be located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. However, after intense discussion and debate, both Houses passed the 1974 Parliament Act that confirmed the location for Parliament House to be on Capital Hill (Griffin's proposed location for the Capitol).

What to do

Topic - Should Parliament House be located on Capital Hill?

Meet with your debating team and analyse the information you have gathered.

List your points for debating against the opposing team.

Prepare to debate.

Be creative

Create your own building design to be located on Capital Hill in Canberra.

Draw several architecturally based designs from several different angles.

Highlight major entrances, internal areas and their function.

Describe its purpose, its accessibility by the general public and your source of inspiration for the design.