Sunday, October 6, 2013

Canberra, or "The World's Largest University Campus"

The Shine Dome
Locals refer to this building as "The Martian Embassy", due to its unusual form
and the fact that Canberra is the Nation's Capital and where all the embassies are located. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Tell an Australian that you're going to Canberra and they usually chuckle and shake their heads in pity - especially if they're from Melbourne or Sydney. You see, Canberra has a reputation as sleepy town where nothing much of interest ever happens, and there's nothing to do or see. Knowing this, I arranged to spend as little time there as possible. That was a mistake. 

The Shine Dome
The Shine Dome was designed by Roy Grounds in 1956-59. . Photo ©Darren Bradley
You see, it turns out that while it's true that Canberra isn't exactly a wild and crazy place or even a hub of culture and entertainment, there is amazing modernist architecture EVERYWHERE. And since I had zero time to look around, it was torture for me. 

The building above is unfortunately the only one that I took photos of with a decent camera. And even this was a stretch, because I finished up my meetings at my office on my second day just as the sun was going down. One of my colleagues at the office agreed to jump in my car with me to give me directions, and we raced over to the campus to grab a couple of shots before he had to catch a plane. Then, I had to drive (quickly) back up to Sydney to meet someone else. So literally, I spent about 2.5 minutes at the dome.

All of my other photos were taken with my iPhone. I pretty much only saw whatever was in my path walking between my hotel and my office. 

Law courts of the Australian Capital Territory #act #archdaily #architecture #midcentury #modern #modernism #australia
Law Courts of the Australian Capital Territory were designed by Roy Simpson of Yuncken Freeman Architects in 1962. [Crappy iPhone] photo ©Darren Bradley
After having been there now, I think the best way to describe it is not as a city or even a town. It really just feels like a giant university campus. Everything is laid out just like a school, with lots of open plazas, parks, gardens, and impressive, grandiose buildings scattered around - but completely lacking any sort of urban fabric or edginess. 

#canberra #architecture #modernism #midcentury
Perth-based architects Howlett & Bailey designed this building for the Reserve Bank of Australia in 1965. They won the commission as the result of a national competition. This building is adjacent to the Law Courts.  [Crappy iPhone] Photo ©Darren Bradley
It's very calm and quiet. Since we were only a few days away from a national election, I assumed everyone was perhaps out of town and that may have contributed to the lack of people around. But was told by some of my colleagues who live there that no, that's just how it always is. 

Legislative Assembly for the ACT #act #archdaily #architecture #midcentury #modern #modernism #australia #canberra
The Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territories is part of the Civic Offices complex. It was also designed by Roy Simpson of Yuncken Freeman (1961). [Crappy iPhone] Photo ©Darren Bradley
Regardless, I'm definitely going to make a point of spending more time there when I return, and getting some proper shots of some of those great modernist buildings. 

Parliament #australia #canberra #act #architecture #modernism #modern
No photo essay on Canberra is complete without a photo of the Parliament Building, so here you go. Not generally a fan of post-modernism, but this is nicely done. This photo was a drive by with my iPhone, too, as you can tell. Photo ©Darren Bradley


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