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The Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition

2. The Lodge for the Prime Minister in Canberra

2.1 Background

The Lodge at Adelaide Avenue in Deakin is the official residence in Canberra of the Prime Minister of Australia. Its first occupants were Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce and his wife Ethel, who moved in on 4 May 1927, five days before the first sitting of the federal parliament at Canberra. It has been the Canberra home for 16 of Australia’s 27 Prime Ministers and their families. The building and grounds have cultural and heritage significance for their associations with these families and with many official dignitaries and visiting heads of government. A new and permanent Lodge on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin will extend this heritage for future generations of Australians and Canberrans.

The existing Lodge was designed by Melbourne architects Oakley and Parkes in a restrained classical style and at a residential scale. The site is land-locked and surrounded by roads. The building has been altered and added to from time to time to address functional and security needs. Some of these changes have been less than sympathetic and the scale and quality of the building and grounds cannot meet contemporary needs for family, ceremonial and official use. It has been clear for some time that the building must be replaced by a new Prime Minister’s Lodge, sited and designed to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future.

The new Lodge and its landscape setting should represent our national aspirations and should also celebrate our design talent. Finding ways to express these ambitions in the 21st century is central to this competition.

The 1912 competition for the design of Australia’s Federal Capital City sought the ‘special consideration of designers’ in the allocation of a site for the ‘Residence of the Prime Minister’. This latest competition is intended to showcase Canberra as the seat of the Australian Government and as a symbol of our identity as a democratic nation. It is entirely appropriate that the centenary of the naming of Canberra should be marked by a design competition and exhibition for the permanent official residence of the Prime Minister.

2.2 Design Objectives

The design objectives for this competition are to:

  • Propose schematic ideas for a contemporary official residence for the Prime Minister of Australia
  • Re-interpret the role of the official residence in the 21st century
  • Demonstrate a modern and distinctive Australian character
  • Demonstrate Australian art, craft and creative directions
  • Create an environment in and of the landscape in the spirit of the Walter Burley Griffin design for the capital city
  • Represent a sustainable lifestyle responsive to the climate and context
  • Provide a place of unity for meeting and for celebration
  • Demonstrate the creativity and depth of talent of Australian designers.

2.3 Site and Context

A splendid site for the new Lodge is available at Attunga Point on the southern foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin in the central national area of Canberra.

The site is surrounded by open space bushland and has sweeping views to Black Mountain, the National Museum of Australia and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Parliament House to the south east of the site and the Governor-General’s residence to the west in Yarralumla, are a short drive away.

The site forms a promontory on the lake foreshore. Much loved and well used recreation open space and a nearby yacht club provide the immediate landscape setting. Pedestrian paths, cycle paths and tourist drives weave around the site connecting it to the heart of Canberra and its recreational areas.

With a slightly elevated position on the lake the site provides an unimposing setting with a subtle presence and wonderful outlook.

Attunga Point is zoned for National Capital Uses in the National Capital Plan and is identified as a potential site for the Prime Minister’s residence in Canberra.

For the purposes of this competition the site boundary has been redrafted and a small section of Alexandrina Drive realigned to the south, to expand the site to 6.8 hectares.

For the purposes of this competition, entrants should assume that services for sewer, storm water, gas, electricity, communications etc are available to the site.

The competition site plan with contours, the proposed road alignment and photographs of the site are available on our Resources page.

2.4 Climate

Canberra’s inland location and altitude gives rise to warm to hot summers and cold winters with daily and annual temperature ranges more extreme than in other Australian capital cities. Prevailing winds are from the north and northwest.  In summer cooler easterly breezes often alleviate the heat in the evenings. On the lake foreshore increased humidity in summer is offset partially by the cooling effect of winds blowing across the water towards the Parliament House.

Frosts are common in winter with an average of 99 days of frost and 44 days of fog each year. Canberra’s high diurnal temperature ranges and prolonged exposure to high levels of ultra violet radiation can both lead to the accelerated degradation of some building materials and finishes. The average rainfall is 62.9mm, with greater levels experienced in October and November. The lowest rainfalls are in June and July. Drought and bushfires are not uncommon and should be considered in the design approach.

Detailed information may be found at:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/tables/cw_070014.shtml

2.5 Flood Levels

The site plan indicating the flood levels is available on our Resources page.

2.6 Geological and Environmental Considerations

In the 19th century, Attunga Point was a quarry providing sandstone for early buildings in the Canberra district. The site has modified native woodland on the eastern side.  The flat area at the top of the site is mown frequently, and is eroded from vehicular traffic. The steep slopes to the west and north towards the lake have planted and naturally occurring trees and shrubs.

The National Capital Authority is responsible for the planning and management of the site. A Conservation Management Plan (PDF format) for the site was prepared by Natural Environment Management Consulting in April 2009.

A Lake Burley Griffin Heritage Assessment was prepared by Godden Mackay Logan in March 2009 and is available in both PDF and Word formats.