National capital ideas competition

May 6, 2011
  • Article by Online Editor
  • Designer

An international ideas competition has been launched today, asking designers, architects and urban planners to consider how a national capital for Australia might look if it were designed today.

Called CAPITheticAL, the competition aims to provoke new thinking about national capitals and planned cities, while also celebrating the centenary of Canberra. Prize money for CAPITheticAL reaches over $100,000.

The competition coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the original design competition challenging architects to design a capital city for the newly federated Australian nation.

Centenary of Canberra Creative Director, Robyn Archer, said at the launch: “”Core to our celebration of Canberra’’s origins is the recognition that 100 years ago, the desire for a new capital for a new nation was bred of a genuinely altruistic nation-building spirit.

“”A century later, CAPITheticAL provides an opportunity for the world’’s ‘best thinkers and designers’ to let their imaginations soar once again –to consider and present 21st century ideas addressing the kinds of challenges that would be faced if they were placed in that situation today.

““We ask everyone to look at the quality of the conversation around our national capital, the heat of the debate, to absorb the wide range of considerations 100 years ago (from climate conditions to the perceived threat of Russian invasion), and then give themselves the same hypothetical challenge now. If you had to plan and build a new capital now, how would you go about it?””

Ms Archer said while entrants will need to consider many new issues – including climate change, increasing density, digital design and the revolution in communication –– they will still need to consider what a capital city might represent. “”What will remain the same are the universal questions that the original international competitors faced,”” she said. “”What does a capital mean, of what should it consist, is it more than just a seat of government? Walter Burley Griffin’s winning designs responded clearly to these challenges.””

Also launching the competition were Competition Ambassador Michael Bryce and AIA National President Karl Fender. Fender said the competition gave architects and designers an opportunity to consider how we might develop our urban spaces. “”As a hypothetical competition, CAPITheticAL opens a window to the future, and the potential for entries outlining new satellite-based cities to those on the ocean floor as entrants examine key issues facing built and unbuilt environments today,”” he said.

Stage One competition entries must be submitted by 31 January 2012.
For full details, go to

Image courtesy National Archives of Australia
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