Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Canberra is very much a planned city. The basic design was the result of a competition in 1912 which attracted 137 entries from Australia and overseas. The winning entry was from a Chicago husband and wife team, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, although the submission was only in Walter's name. The Griffins were landscape architects, influenced by the garden city movement, and this influence is clear in what is often known as the 'bush capital' of Australia.

Rather than treating the site as a blank canvas, as many of the other entrants did (some of whom never even visited the site), the Griffins used the natural features of the land as the starting point for their design, and this intent has also been carried through into the satellite town centres of Belconnen, Woden, Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.

A neighbourhood philosophy was adopted by the main planning authority, with the green belts which run through the suburbs an integral part of putting this into practice. In general, each suburb is bounded by main roads, and contains a small shopping hub within walking distance of all the homes in the suburb. Paths, such as the one in the photo, run through the suburbs to the shops, and are shared by pedestrians and cyclists. The underpasses allow users to avoid crossing busy roads, and in many areas children can walk from home to school without crossing a road at all.

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