Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Canberra Not a Finnish Vision

Competitor number 18 Eliel Saarinen Perspective view general Canberra Planning Competition.
Greetings from the National Archives of Australia in Canberra where Dr Robert Bell AM, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, National Gallery of Australia is speaking on "A capital through Finnish eyes". He is discussing the entry in the 1912 competition for the design for the City of Canberra by Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen, who lost to the design by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony.

Saarinen placed a railway station at the heart of his design for Canberra. This would have been handy for recent proposals for high speed rail. The text of Saarinen's submission is available from Cornell University (from Australian Archives, ACT, Series A762):

To facilitate an undisturbed growth we must first place the different parts of the town in groups, so that each can grow without encumbering the other. We must moreover set down the plan for the nearest surroundings of the town and choose suitable places for its future suburbs, each with a character of its own.
We have, -
(a) the official town with the Houses of Parliament, the Ministerial Buildings, and all houses which are to surround them.
(b) the university quarter;
(c) the military quarter;
(d) the commercial quarter;
(e) the industrial quarter with its population of workmen;
(f) the quarter for hospitals etc....

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