Property: House and home of democracy

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Catherine Carter.
Catherine Carter.
THE prize-winners and 22 other entries in an exciting competition to design a new Prime Minister’s Lodge are now on show at the Gallery of Australian Design at Commonwealth Place on the lake foreshore.

Designs were invited for a building with a modern and distinctive Australian character that would spark the national imagination.

The competition has turned out to be a winner and 242 designs were submitted – more than the 220 designs entered for the Sydney Opera House 50 years ago or the 137 in the competition for the design of Canberra 50 years before that.

An outstanding jury reviewed the designs. The Prime Minister, they said, should live in a “world-class residence that showcases the best of contemporary design and architecture”.

The designs responded wonderfully to the magnificent Attunga Point lakeside site.

The first prize shows a long and low building sitting comfortably in the subtle landscape. It is imposing yet casual, reflecting the informal nature of Australian outdoor lifestyles. The drawings are elegant, and the view across the lake in the morning mists looks as if it could have come from the Turner exhibition at the National Gallery.

The second prize went to a more formal design sited on the ridge, with colonnades and a memorable central courtyard. The third prize winner carved a site into the old quarry, with lakefront terraces and steps down to the water from the public rooms.

The winners came from across Australia and all over the world. A Canberra architect was recognised with a commendation for a thoughtfully planned building that was intimate and grand.

With democracy at the very heart of who we are as a nation, our Prime Minister deserves a house and workplace in Canberra that reflects that belief. This excellent exhibition shows ways that we can translate this into a building of which we can all be proud.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia


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Catherine Carter
Former ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia


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