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The Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition

Jury Report

242 entries were received for the University of Canberra’s Lodge by the Lake design ideas competition for a new official residence for the Prime Minister. Entries were received from all over Australia. The majority were from design professionals and graduates with a solid representation from design students. The response to the competition and the quality of the entries is a clear demonstration of a broad appreciation of the significant and pivotal role of the Prime Minister’s Residence, and as a place symbolising Australian design and culture. As an open ideas competition it was established from the start that it would be independent of Australian Government agencies and political parties to encourage the broadest range of responses.

The announcement of the winner and finalists on 23 May is exactly 101 years after Walter Burley Griffin was acknowledged as the winner of the international competition for the design of Australia’s Federal Capital City.

The primary purpose of the competition was to emphasise the importance of a national conversation around the need for a new Prime Minister’s residence.

While there are no plans at this time for a new residence, the competition jury noted that the current residence The Lodge is extremely unsatisfactory: it is too small for official functions, it adjoins a busy main road, is generally inaccessible to the public, security is intrusive and there is no opportunity for normal family life.

The jury also noted the obvious need for a new residence that suited the work and the standing of the Prime Minister of Australia, and that evoked Australian lifestyles and values.

While there will always be arguments about other funding priorities, the fact remains the current Lodge is no longer up to the job, and indeed it has always been understood that it would be replaced by a more suitable building on another site. Decisions about The Lodge should be independent of the Prime Minister so it is not a political issue; the Prime Minister is, after all, just one of a sequence of tenants in a house owned by all Australians. The building should be a matter of national pride. Our Prime Minister should live in a world class residence that showcases to all visitors the best of contemporary Australian design and architecture.

The competition entrants were required to propose a design that met the formal private and service and security requirements of a Prime Minister’s residence. It included a private home and study, function spaces and support services and a landscape design for the 6.8 hectare foreshore site, including a jetty, a swimming pool and areas for garden parties for up to 400 people. The response was to be sympathetic to the Griffin plan for Canberra, and represent a sustainable lifestyle, responsive to climate and context. The design also had to present the works of art and special contents provided through the National Gallery of Australia and the Australiana Fund.

The proposed site for the new Lodge is at Attunga Point, a remarkable landscaped peninsula with a northern outlook over Lake Burley Griffin towards Black Mountain. While convenient to the Parliamentary Triangle, it has a wonderful sense of privacy and seclusion. Long identified as an ideal site, it requires formal reservation in perpetuity, and confirmation of its intended use.

The winning designs of The Lodge on the Lake design ideas competition provide inspired concepts of how our future Prime Ministers could live in an exemplary building located on one of Canberra’s finest sites.


The designs of the finalists will be on exhibition at the Gallery of Australian Design from 15 August to 19 October 2013.

The Jury

The competition jury comprised:

Professor Lyndon Anderson, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra (chair)

Dr Ron Radford AM, Director, National Gallery of Australia

Kerry Hill AO, Principal, Kerry Hill architects; Australian Institute of Architects gold medallist

Howard Tanner, Director, Tanner Kibble Denton Architects; professorial fellow, University of Canberra; former national president, Australian Institute of Architects

Kerstin Thompson, Principal, Kerstin Thompson Architects

Oi Choong, Director, Context Landscape Design

Louise Bell, Director, Interni Interior Architecture and Design

Neil Hobbs, Director, Harris Hobbs landscape architects; former national president, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

The Advisory Panel

The competition Advisory Panel included jury members Professor Lyndon Anderson and Neil Hobbs, and:

Adjunct Professor Michael Bryce AM AE

Dr John Mackay AM, Chancellor of the University of Canberra

David Parken, Chief Executive, Australian Institute of Architects

Adjunct Professor Annabelle Pegrum AM, University of Canberra University Architect who was also the honorary Competition Adviser.


The University acknowledges the support of sponsors including:

  • Centenary of Canberra (ACT Government),
  • Harold Mitchell,
  • ActewAGL,
  • Institute of Architects,
  • Dixon Advisory,
  • John Hindmarsh,
  • Rupert Meyer,
  • Neil Hobbs,
  • Bob Winnel and
  • Arthur Kenyon.


The competition prize winners are:

Entry 6239

Mr Jack Davies and Team Members, Nicholas Roberts and Henry Stephens

First prize: $80,000

Jury comments:

This design stood out as one that most successfully integrates the built forms with the subtle landscape of Attunga Point: it responsibly owns the landscape, it is beautifully sited and it celebrates the lake edge location. Casual, yet imposing, it reflects the informal nature of contemporary Australian lifestyles and architecture, while providing attractive larger spaces for public gatherings. Its materials - concrete, Australian timber and recycled metal - were chosen to weather and harmonise with the colours and textures of the bushland setting. Environmental considerations included extensive water detention.

From the winner’s notes:

‘From the composed house atop a plinth, to the slippages and interpolation that unravel down towards the lake, the lodge on the lake is a democratic marriage of terroir and architectural typology, introspective private dwelling, and [place of] public assembly’

Entry 6911

Professor Alan Pert and Team Members from NORD Architecture / Landscape

(Brian McGinlay, Helen-Anne Love, Mark Bell and Rod Kemsley) and Atelier 10 (Environmental / Structures)

Second prize: $20,000

Jury comments:

Built of pale Canberra sandstone, the design relates to a civic tradition of formal colonnaded buildings in the capital.

It presents to the lake as a serene composition, a highly considered volume with a certain gravitas, which retains residential attributes through careful massing. Thoughtfully sited on the rise of the peninsula, it is connected to the broader landscape by interesting axial gardens. It has an appropriate scale and distinctive character, with the accommodation set about a memorable central courtyard.

The interior planning deserves further refinement.

Entry 6672

Ms Monica Earl and Mr Nic Moore, and Project Team Members Darryl Chandler, Lea Fernandez and Terence Young

Third prize: $10,000

Jury comments:

A powerful idea; a clear plan; a strong sense of order. The site is carved into the old quarry, creating a lake-front platform, leaving much of the Attunga point landscape intact. Strong linear forms are created, providing masonry fingers extending into the lake, with the key interiors extending onto lake-front terraces, whose steps descend into water - a distant echo of traditional urban buildings edging waterways, as in Venice. The formal interiors are defined by the great walls - wonderful vehicles for a major art collection - and the northern outlook over Lake Burley Griffin. At an upper level the private quarters have a canopied terrace set above the massive masonry plinth.

The design could be scaled down to advantage.

Entry 6478

Mr Narendra Kaley


Jury comments:

The particular attribute of this scheme was its logical, lucid planning, providing an effective sequence of spaces. The interiors were thoughtfully proportioned, whether intimate or grand. External massing - conveyed in photographs of a model - was well resolved, although the materials were not nominated.

Integration with site and landscape deserves further development.


The Jury also selected entries for consideration by the Advisory Panel for exhibition from the 15th of August until 19th of October, at the Gallery of Australian Design (GAD), which is situated where the Griffins’ National Axis meets the lake. The entries included many interesting plans and stunning images of different approaches to the design, and can inform further discussion on the appropriate form and character of the next version of The Lodge.