Lodge on the Lake Design Competition winners

May 23, 2013

Winners have been announced for the design ideas competition for a new Prime Minister’s Lodge in Canberra.

Above: The winning design, by Jack Davies with team members Nicholas Roberts and Henry Stephens.

The winners have been announced for the Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition – a competition inviting design ideas for a new Prime Minister’s lodge.

The top prize, worth AU$80,000, went to graduate architect Jack Davies and team members Nicholas Roberts and Henry Stephens for their design that, in their own words, “both enfolds the landscape and is subsumed by it”.

The winning design, by Jack Davies with team members Nicholas Roberts and Henry Stephens.


“Retaining walls draw visitors into a choreographed entry sequence, pulling them through the earth in a series of intermediary spaces – compressing the archaic nature of the subterranean with shifting weather conditions above.”

The $20,000 second prize went to Professor Alan Pert (director of the Melbourne School of Design and founder of NORD), NORD team members Brian McGinlay, Helen-Anne Love, Mark Bell and Rod Kemsley, and environmental/structures firm Atelier 10. Their project draws from inspiration found in the specific topography of the site, and favours “the tactile over the visual, the experiential over the experimental”.

Second prize went to Professor Alan Pert, Brian McGinlay, Helen-Anne Love, Mark Bell, Rod Kemsley & Atelier 10.


Third place, worth $10,000 went to Monica Earl and Nic Moore, who in their project statement compared their design to The White House, noting that “the Lodge must be the hearth of the nation – a fort, command-post, event space and icon”.

Canberra designer Narendra Kaley was also commended for his entry.

Third place went to Ms Monica Earl and Mr Nic Moore.


Launched as part of the celebrations for the Centenary of Canberra, the University of Canberra and the Gallery of Australian Design invited design professionals, graduates and students from all over the country to enter the competition. Competition guidelines state that the winning project may or may not be built, and that the competition aimed to generate a range of solutions and stimulate discourse about Australia’s current and future identity.

Entries were judged by a jury panel chaired by Professor Lyndon Anderson, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra. Other jury members include Dr Ron Radford AM, director of the National Gallery of Australia; Kerry Hill AO, architect and recipient of the AIA’s Gold Medal award; architect Kerstin Thompson; Howard Tanner of Tanner Kibble Denton Architects and former National President of the AIA; Oi Choong, director of CONTEXT Landscape Design and an AIA Fellow; director of Interni Pty Ltd, Louise Bell; and Neil Hobbs, former president of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

The existing Lodge at 5 Adelaide Avenue in Canberra has been home to 16 of Australia’s 27 prime ministers and their families.

The winning entries, and the work of the other finalists, will be displayed at an exhibition at the Gallery of Australian Design in Canberra from August.

  • Adrian May 23rd, 2013 8:42 pm

    If one of the aims of this competition was to stimulate discourse about Australia’s current and future identity, then I am terribly concerned. I would say the the jury did at the very least, order the prizewinners in the correct order of merit from average to diabolically oppressive.

    If I see another black box, wedding cake, gulag or power station win another Australian design competition, I think I may take up gardening – full time.

    None of the published entries demonstrate the true potential, delight or aesthetic elegance possible in architecture. None demonstrate the ability of great architecture to captivate the layperson as well as the professional. None have shown respect to the wonderful landform, the architectural heritage of Canberra, stemming from it’s inception by Burley Griffin. None have acknowledged the endangered flowering species in it’s midst. The winning entry talks about the hostility of the Australian environment, yet orients the main living room full west with no solar protection. One would think by their statement that Canberra was below the Antarctic Circle, but where is their logical response to their own supposition?

    Instead, we have seen entries that propagate the selfish, vain land grabbing that plagues our well to do private foreshores.

    I thought this was to be a design ideas competition. In the international sense, this implies ideas that stretch and challenge accepted norms and precedent. This is what the Sydney Opera House competition demonstrated. I see no design ideas at all, only responses to the brief, some deftly handled, others downright disrespectful of the site, the place, the purpose, the scale or even the size of a human being.

    Noen of these proposals are worthy of taxpayers’ funds.

  • Future7 May 23rd, 2013 9:19 pm

    The winning designs reflect more on the jury than the weakness of the work itself. If this is regarded as the best of what is on offer then surely the jury’s decision making process is fundamentally flawed. No one in their right mind or who knows anything aout architecture is fooled by this It is a discredit to the profession no to mention making a mockery of the whole process.

  • Berkshire Review May 24th, 2013 9:49 am

    I agree that the winning designs are at best uninspiring and perhaps indicative of a new blandness in Australian architecture (though it is possible that somewhere in the reject pile may be found a design which takes delight in the challenges of Canberra’s climate, makes a genuine urban gesture and offers an architecture more expressive than the insipid minimalism of a genuinefake Mies chair.

    But why design a new Lodge at all?

    In a parliamentary system it is appropriate for the prime minister’s residence to be an ordinary but comfortable house on an ordinary street (rather than a lakeside hideaway out of the Godfather II) because as a member of Parliament the PM works at Parliament House. The Lodge is not meant to be a monument like the White House, which is simultaneously the US president’s home, workplace and symbol of one three co-equal branches of government.

    And what a missed opportunity — why celebrate Canberra’s hundredth birthday with these two (along with CAPithetiCAL) “ideas” competitions which seem so studiously designed to result in absolutely nothing getting built? What a pity to let a good centenary go to waste, especially when there are so many juicy urban projects, such as a tramway down Northbourne Avenue, which would actually improve the lives of Canberrans. If such a project is too expensive, imagine what local community groups could have done with the money spent on these two competitions.

    Look at the Botanical Gardens in Sydney, which is pushing to get the Cahill Expressway covered to commemorate its bicentenary in 2016. Whether they succeed or not depends on the exigencies of NSW politics, but at least they’re trying to build something for the city.

  • Thom May 24th, 2013 10:07 am

    Oh, man.

  • Jan van Schaik May 24th, 2013 10:08 am

    Interesting. They all bear a strong resemblance to the 2nd and 3rd place entries for the Sydney Opera House design competition many years ago…

  • Michael May 24th, 2013 11:07 am

    I must have missed something…….was this a competition to design a museum or a residence? I couldn’t for the life of me imagine living in one of these huge, bland, “public” buildings. I wholeheartedly agree with Adrian above – there was lamentably no “delight or aesthetic elegance” in these winning entries – only architectural “boxes” that are so prevalent in our current equally bland architectural landscape. If any new residence is ever built one would hope that it would show the world all the promise, drama and creativity shown by numerous gifted designers in Australia today.

  • Eddie May 24th, 2013 8:02 pm

    The process needs reviewing. Why only 3 prizes? The organisers could have dispersed it among 20 varied ideas with different sensibilities ranging from materiality, functionality, optimism, phenomenology, surface articulation, ESD ..etc the opportunities were there but were missed.

  • Denis J. Guiney May 29th, 2013 4:32 am

    I don’t like the winning design or runners up. There are beautiful but it’s not what I want to see my PM living and entertaining in. I think the original Lodge should be kept. It’s Australian History and should remain so. We have a beautiful Parliament House for Public Functions and so on. If they want to expand the PM’s Residence go down to have a sub-terranean facility e.g.: situation room, meeting rooms, protection etc. In England the PM’s House in Downing St, reflects its history, in the US the same goes for the White House but the Americans seem to do everything big! At the end of the Day the person in the top job wants to go home to a home, not something that represents a annex of Parliament House. I respect the winners but Australia should have more input including Black Fella suggestions – Now that’s a winner!

  • Adrian May 29th, 2013 8:13 pm

    A fact has come to my attention that may help explain the dour result. The entry artwork was displayed for the jury ON THE FLOOR OF A GYMNASIUM! This is not only very disrespectful of the artwork, but also risks damaging the artwork. It also meant that as jurors were inspecting the artwork, in order to read the statements or texts or fine detail, they would be forced to crouch.

    What a disgraceful way to display and review work for a supposedly distinguished competition. Get some pin boards next time – honestly!

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