COMPETITION DESIGN FOR THE FEDERAL CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA
Typescript among the Gimson papers and drawings in the Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, Cheltenham, England.
Several commas originally typed were subsequently lined through diagonally by pencil or pen, and they are omitted in this transcription. Three other manuscript changes in spelling have also been incorporated. In the Gimson typescript the section headings in capital letters were placed in the margins to the left of the text. Page numbers originally appeared at the bottom of each page in arabic numerals within parentheses.
The author of this design has chosen for the city area the slopes radiating from Kurrajong and Camp Hill to the shores of a lake formed by constructing a weir across the Molonglo river. In addition to considerations of aspect, levels, and surroundings the choice of this site has been influenced by the number of its prominent positions suitable for Public Buildings, the possibilities it gives for the City's growth on all sides, the shape of its boundary by the waterside and by its setting in the landscape as seen from the surrounding country.
The central park containing the State Hall on Camp Hill and the Houses of Parliament grouped with the eight Public Offices on Kurrajong, the embankment road by the lake, the existing roads and the streets radiating from the park with others following the more clearly defined watercourses determine the general character of the plan.
The selection of this site necessitated diverting the proposed line of the railway printed on the contour map to a position further east with the station near the end of the lake. The district to the East and South of the station, is shewn as the industrial area not only as conveniently placed for the railway, but as being in a position where the smoke from the factories would not be carried over the city during the prevailing Summer and Winter winds.
From the station a broad straight road leads through avenues and open spaces into the city, and the land on each side of it, for a length of about three quarters of a mile, is laid out as a garden suburb mainly for the people working in the factories.
Kurrajong is chosen as the site for the Houses of Parliament as being the most prominent and dominating position in the City area, and the eight Public Offices are grouped around them on terraces at a lower level. The Governor General's and Prime Minister's Houses are shewn at the South West end of the park, each in grounds of about six acres. The State Hall is on Camp Hill, and the Printing Office and the Mint are at opposite sides of the park between the State Hall and the Houses of Parliament. The City Hall has a prominent site on the hill to the North West of Kurrajong. It is seen from the North East above a series of terraces and terminates the vista from the end of the embankment road. It is flanked on this side by the Criminal and Police Courts and the Courts of Justice. The chief entrance faces the Park and the principal driving approach would be from that side. On the hill to the South East of the City Hall is placed the group of University Buildings with the central block on the top of the hill and the other buildings round it on terraces. The General Hospital is shewn on the East side of the city 50 feet above the level of the lake with gardens terraced to the embankment road. The Isolation Hospital and the Gaol are shewn outside the city to the West. They would be reached by drives from the existing road. The General Market is on the East side of the town with a Market House 50 feet above the level of the lake and with a covered arcade for the stalls enclosing an open square. On a site to the East of the Market jutting into the lake and 35 feet above the water level are shewn the Technical Colleges. The Military Barracks are at the crossing of the existing roads to the South. Near the Station are the Marshalling Yards and also the Cattle Market, Military Equipment Works, Central Power Station, Gas Works and sites for other factories
The Stadium is placed on the North side of the lake on a narrow piece of land surrounded on three sides by the water and commanding fine views of the lake and city. It is reached by a bridge of thirteen arches, the central arch being 90 feet wide and 30 feet high.
Sites are indicated for ten places of worship.- The principal one is on rising ground in an open space in the main street from the front of the State Hall to the embankment road. This Church with the State Hall on Camp Hill and the Houses of Parliament on Kurrajong forms the profile of the City. The National Art Gallery and Library and the museum are on opposite sides of the square in this street, and the National Theatre and the General Post Office are at the corners of the open space where the principal Church stands.
The City public buildings are all shewn larger than the author considers necessary for a town of this size, having regard to the probability of its future extension.
Sites for semi-public buildings, such as Banks, Insurance Offices, Institutes, Schools, Hotels, Clubs, Restaurants, Exhibition Galleries, Concert Rooms etc., are shewn on the plan crosshatched thus:-
[Here Gimson drew a square ca. 1 cm. on a side, with six vertical and six horizontal lines, creating a small grid.]
HOUSES, SHOPS AND OFFICES.
The building plots for houses, shops, and offices are coloured grey. The houses in all cases are shewn set back from the streets distances varying from 12 feet to 50 feet. It is suggested that the shops should be confined mainly though not entirely to the districts where the building plots are shewn on the plan edged with red. The shop fronts would be set back from the face of the buildings under arcades giving extra widths to the streets at these centres.
STREETS AND ROADS.
The streets are drawn of a width adequate for the traffic of a larger city. The gradients on the lower slopes are generally easy, but some leveling is required in the higher parts. a comparatively small amount of levelling enables the steepest gradients to be made 1 ln 14 with the single exception of the road west of the City Hall where the gradient is 1 in 10 for a distance of 160 yards. The embankment road roughly follows the 1827 contour line leaving several irregular pieces of ground projecting beyond it into the lake. These are shewn as laid out for Public Gardens and as sites for buildings that would stand well by the water side. Where the road is below the 1830 contour line it is made up to that level rising to 1835 at the springing of the bridges. To give a sheltered walk in hot and wet weather a covered arcade is suggested 20 feet across and running nearly the whole length of the road on the lake side as shewn in the two views. This arcade in the author's opinion while screening in some measure the near part of the lake from the ground floor windows of the houses opposite, would enhance rather than diminish, the interest of the wider views. The houses on this road would be set back 40 feet. It is assumed that they would have wide frontages and that their principal sitting rooms would be on the first floor. The first street parallel to the embankment road would be a residential street with the houses set back 16 or 20 feet. The second parallel street would be a broad avenue with shops in the central part set back under arcades making the width of paths and roadway 120 feet. This avenue, turns with the embankment road on the West and continuing by the side of the park passes near the City Hall and the University. It is assumed that this avenue would become the principal street of shops for the enlarged City.
Besides trees in the parks, gardens, streets and squares and arcades in the streets and on the embankment road, built shelters are shewn in many of the open spaces.
In addition to the bridge mentioned above, leading to the Stadium, another bridge is shewn crossing the lake opposite the principal Church and leading to the road to Yass. The central arch of this bridge would be 50 feet high and 125 feet wide. On the east of the city is shewn the position for a third bridge to be built when the growth of the town on the north side of the lake requires it. The central arch of this bridge would be 100 feet wide and 33 feet high.
The most important tramway routes only are shewn, making two intersecting loops in the city and continuing to the railway station and the industrial area. None of the principal streets are too steep for trams and extensions could be made as required. The bridges across the lake are shewn wide enough for tramways.
The railway is shewn on the west slopes of the hills that have Mount Ainslie as their highest point. It has been shewn in a cutting for most of its length on the North side of the lake. This has the advantage of making it easy to carry roads over it should the city extend to that part, and of preventing the noise of the trains being carried too distinctly across the lake. Probably the whole of the materials excavated could be used for road metal.
By taking the line nearer Mount Ainslie, and tunnelling through the hillside as shewn on the plan by a dotted line, the area on the North side of the lake would be left more free for building, and the noise would be less audible in the city, but the cost of this would of course be considerable and the suggestion is only put forward as a possible alternative.
The weir forming one lake would be placed at the point marked G. H. on the preliminary contour survey. The top water level would be 1825 giving an area of almost exactly 2000 acres. The evaporation is given as 40 inches per annum which gives an average of .11 inch per day. Having regard to the statistics at Cool gardie [sic] it does not seem likely that the evaporation on any day throughout the year would exceed 20 inch. The minimum flow of the Molonglo river of 20 cubic feet per second would keep pace with an evaporation of .24 inch and should therefore be enough to maintain the lake at its top water level. The railway embankment would be utilized to terminate the lake, and the land immediately east of the embankment would be levelled up to 1826.00 feet to prevent any possibility of a swamp forming there.
The whole of the city can be drained by gravitation to the sewage farm already decided on. The storm water drains can discharge into the Molonglo river immediately below the weir forming the lake. Storm water from the hills south of the city area discharging into the city would be taken into these drains and thus disposed of. Some intercepting drains would be required immediately south of the existing road forming the boundary of the present city area to lead the storm water into the storm drains, but it will be noticed that streets have been arranged on the lines of the existing watercourses so that most of the water from the hills would discharge directly into the storm water drains. To deal with exceptional storms overflows can be placed on the storm drains discharging into the lake.
SIZE OF THE CITY.
The City has been planned for about 25,000 inhabitants apart from the garden suburb and the industrial area, which it is assumed would not develop to the extent shewn on the plan until the main part of the city had been completed.
Selected, transcribed, edited, provided with headnotes, and formatted as a web document by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Department of City and Regional Planning, West Sibley Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA. Tel: (607) 255-5391, Fax: (607) 255-6681, E-mail: email@example.com To Top of Page