Canberra was always a project torn between ambition and avoidance… For fear of upsetting Sydney or Melbourne, the location of Australia’s capital avoided larger territorial aspirations in the way that Brasilia did shortly after. But its crystalline winning scheme was bold, and contained the promise of enlightened irradiation
It went well, if -naturally- slow, for a few years, until fear and abandonment struck again, in force… Postwar Canberra, like so many other cities at the time, let its future be designed by Cold-War traffic engineers, converting the dream of a modern Babylon into sprawl and highways
Canberra''''''''s mix of ambition and banality is, nevertheless, what a good city is all about. A capital city will need a healthy amount of desire, a drive for the symbolic, but its structure will want normalcy. Perhaps, then, what Canberra needs is just a little more of itself, albeit in different proportions, different amounts
We can easily imagine the multiplying of the original Griffin plan, adding the city to itself, organizing the recent sprawl with new nodes and public transport with more urban streets between them
Instead of ‘pasting’ a new ‘Government’ or ‘Civic Center’ node on top of itself, we would displace and rotate them, giving each one of them the very urban quality of diversity that it is now lacking
With this reclaimed space for higher density, Canberra can then grow from the inside instead of sprawling away, lowering its expenditure on transport and its carbon and sustainability footprint.
The new nodes will be much denser, and allow for a much greater variety in its programmatic design. Minor, but detailed changes in street and public space design will allow for easier multi-species (people, animals…) access to urban and natural resources.