In this proposal for a new Australian Prime Ministers lodge, the core concept focused around the question; 'What if the British had embraced Indigenous culture in 1788?' Designed by Stephen Collier Architects, they propose to reconfigure and redefine this boundary of the lodge as a ring of landscape that is retained for public use. This land would be defined by a cluster of deciduous trees while public access to Lake Burley Griffin for all Australians will remain in perpetuity. More images and architects' description after the break.
What if the British, instead of completely and summarily dismissing Aboriginal people and their culture, took a more open approach to Aboriginal people, culture and knowledge systems? This country would be one where the chances of an indigenous or non-indigenous Prime Minister would have been the same at every election since Federation. As a result Australia would now have an equal meeting of cultures and (cultural) influence.
We propose 3 key moves:
1. A permanent and protective structure of roof forms (reflecting our democracy) with a flexible interior (also representing our culture) that is allowed to evolve;
2. An undulating visually porous boundary defined on the outside edge by a ring of deciduous trees and vaulted cave-like spaces of art underneath;
3. A private stroll garden, of amplified native landscape, gently sloping up around the outside edge and allowing local indigenous fauna to move freely, in and out, underneath it.
After 1788 there were two opposing perspectives of landscape and home: the non- indigenous idea of home in a cultivated landscape of definitive property boundaries, and the indigenous idea of a transient home in a shared and unbounded landscape. Observing that Australia’s watery boundary is still a contested zone of arrival we acknowledge Canberra’s man-made lake and the random property alignment marking the site of the proposed new Lodge.
We propose separating the administrative and support functions from the private domain. Key groupings of rooms, amenities and staff are arranged in a pinwheel around a central foyer, from which all parts of the landscape can be seen and from which all parts of the house can be accessed. A large private stroll garden becomes a place of reflection and repose.
An amplified native landscape is enhanced with non-indigenous clusters of liquid amber, poplar and willow. Traces of this new landscape are entwined in and through the buildings. Narrow paths for strolling would be burnt through fields of native grasses and daisies, creating different journeys through and around the garden.
Architects: Stephen Collier Architects
Location: Canberra, Australia
Collaborators: Paolo Stracchi, Maryam Litkouhi, David Janson