Centenary city design competition attracts international interest

Released 27/04/2012

A Centenary of Canberra competition to design a hypothetical modern capital city has been hailed a success, attracting 114 entries from 24 different countries.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the CAPITheticAL competition invited student and professional architects, landscape designers, engineers and urban planners from all over the world to revisit Canberra's history and imagine how an Australian national capital might be created if they were asked to design it today, more than 100 years later.

Up to $100,000 worth of prizes will be shared among the final winners of the competition, with a first prize valued at up to $70,000 to be awarded.

"Entries have now closed and in total, the competition attracted over 1200 registrations, resulting in 41 student entries and 73 open category entries," the Chief Minister said.

The competition has sparked international interest, with entries received from 24 different countries, including the United States, Canada, Scotland and the United Kingdom and New Zealand, as well as throughout Europe - including France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Russia - and throughout Asia and the Middle East, including China, India, Malaysia and Kazakhstan. 74 entries were received from Australian participants, including seven entries that came from Canberra.

"In the lead-up to and throughout the Centenary year, the competition should encourage all Canberrans to reflect on the bold decisions taken 100 years ago to hold an international competition for the original design of the Australian capital.

"I'm very pleased that we can honour the original competition, indeed the great qualities of the Griffin design and his vision for what our capital city should become in the Centenary year. The competition today has seen designers, architects and city planners put themselves hypothetically in the same situation today, and to explore the very best of twenty-first century thinking about cities.

"I had always hoped that the Centenary would not only be about the history of Canberra, but also its present and future: I think this project has worked perfectly in all three dimensions, and I thank the Australian Institute of Architects for running it on our behalf.

"I am really pleased with the response to this competition, and especially to see our local participants competing on the international stage. I congratulate all the entrants on their hard work so far, and am looking forward to the announcement of the 20 shortlisted entries in May," the Chief Minister said.

Centenary of Canberra Creative Director, Robyn Archer AO, thanked the jury members for all their hard work and serious deliberations of the entries.

"I can't wait to see how the finalists now develop their entries toward the final judging and exhibition in 2013," Ms Archer said.

"This competition was held with a number of Centenary objectives in mind: exploring the history of the capital in fresh, imaginative ways; ensuring the Centenary is noted and celebrated not only by Canberrans, but throughout the nation and the world; and, underscoring the confidence of the Canberra community in critical appraisal of the city as it makes important decisions about the next one hundred years.

"An intelligent but playful exercise like this is an ideal way to achieve recognition, draw attention to the unique design history of our capital, and to stimulate thought around nation-building," said Ms Archer.

A shortlist of entrants to proceed to the final round of the competition will be decided by a jury of experts and announced at an event in Canberra on 17 May 2012.

Final submissions are due in November, with winning entries to be announced and exhibited in March 2013 to coincide with Canberra's 100th birthday.

CAPITheticAL is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government and the Australian Government, and is administered by the Australian Institute of Architects. 

For more information on the competition, visit www.capithetical.com.au.

The diverse Centenary program aims to celebrate the symbolism of Australia's national capital and its qualities as a leading twenty-first century city.

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