Designed by architects Nic Moore and Monica Earl, in collaboration with Lea Fernandez, Darryl Chandler, and Terence Yong, their third prize winning proposal for the Lodge on the Lake understands that a new Lodge needs both to fulfill the requirements of a complex brief, but also to be a strong symbol of Australian domestic and political values. This scheme is sited at the tip of Attunga Point and requires the sculpting of the Lake’s shore in order to bury a low landscape building in the ridge of the promontory. This building is made by fingers of heavy earthen walls, which project into the Lake. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Lake Burley Griffin required massive civil works. Two meters of soil was scraped from a river valley; beach sand, retaining walls and boulders were brought to an imagined shore and a sluice gate was shut to impound the Molonglo river. The Lake’s level is presently held constant to this carefully crafted shoreline by manipulations of the Scrivener and Googong dams, but this level can fluctuate with rainfall and climate.
There are eight walls in total. Where these walls terminate, ghats of stone step down to the water, whatever its level. Between these walls, the Lake’s water is held in ponds for thermal stability, bouncing light and creating calm. The proposed ghats and alluvial gardens associated with the scheme reshape the shoreline of the Lake, creating places to sit and places to fish. Siting the Lodge at the tip of Attunga Point was important because by becoming part of the Lake’s shore, the building becomes part of Canberra.
These heavy earthen walls are rammed from 425 million year old sedimentary rock belonging to the Yarralumla Formation, found on site. These walls variously enclose formal rooms, create courtyards, hold water and define paths of circulation. The heaviest and tallest wall is to the east and has one opening, the symbolic front door. The lowest and most open wall is to the west and forms a threshold to the symbolic back yard of the Lodge. These walls align with the rock on site to point towards midday in the northeastern sky. These walls frame views of the city for visitors to the Lodge and views of visitors to the Lodge for the city.
The Prime Minister’s private lodgings are held above, but perpendicular to the walls, orienting to the northwest. By orienting this way, these private lodgings find tranquility in the little bay and prospect towards Black Mountain and the National Arboretum. Private outdoor space is held within walled terraces, which step downwards for privacy and security, and become part of the symbolic back yard.
A delicate leaf-form roof is held above the earthen walls and serves simultaneously as an operable shading device, a collector of water, a collector of solar energy and, over the years, a collector of many interesting people and stories. As an equivalent to the White House, the Lodge must be the hearth of the nation – a command post, an event space, a sanctuary and an icon.