Lineburg & Flutter’s entry into an ideas competition for a new lodge for the Prime Minister. In collaboration with Michael Lineburg and Lynn Wang.
The Australian landscape
Carved from the Australian bush, the city of Canberra is a stark juxtaposition between human values and the pre-existing landscape. Burley Griffin’s geometric masterplan, derived from perceived axes in the topography, as often imposes its intentions on the terrain as it is informed by it. A man-made lake creates a coastline where once a shallow hillside fell toward the flood plain of the inland Molonglo River. Within this contradiction lies the unique character of Canberra, a city that values the land alongside its rigid structure. It is at once formal and rugged, defined and undefined.
Attunga Point is a microcosm of this interaction – a promontory formed by the introduction of the man-made datum of Lake Burley Griffin. The building on the top of that promontory is an unashamed man-made object, contained by its own geometry, and enclosing a designed landscape serving the human and civic functions required. The rest of the site is given back to the landscape, rehabilitated as natural bushland, and left to repair. The interest is found in the intersection between the terrain / vegetation and the building.
Using materials and textures that occur on the site, the building is made from the landscape. The colours of the tree trunks match the colour of the timber roof structure, and the local stone is picked up on the floor and walls. By using materials from the landscape, the distinction is between what has been designed and what has not. The natural bush and the house are the same, but arranged differently.
At the civic scale, the building relates formally to the Canberra masterplan, signifying an important civic place in the hierarchical city structure. At the human scale, the low form is not monumental, but adequate. There is no need for the building to be a recognised as a visual landmark, but rather known as a significant place in the city. As such the public uses are celebrated and emphasised, with the wide central courtyard accommodating large functions in a spectacular garden setting.
Transparency & Privacy
The use of transparency in the scheme is symbolic of the openness required in a democratic government. The single storey floor plan is designed to feel expansive, refreshing and contemplative. The fluid spaces are delineated by the undulating terrain of the ceiling, reflecting the surrounding landscape. The main volumes are constrained only by the rigid ancillary core, creating privacy and security in the plan, with minimal interruption to the spatial aesthetic
Rapid manufacturing will play an important role in the construction of forms that would be uneconomical and difficult to build with standard techniques. The roof structure in particular can be laminated, cut and finished using automated processes, showcasing the best of Australian manufacturing.
A zero consumption solution
As a matter of course, all new public buildings should incorporate exemplary sustainable design. From the ground up, this scheme has been conceived around photovoltaic electricity generation, water recycling, passive thermal and passive daylighting design strategies to create an off-grid, zero consumption asset with minimum operating costs.