REPORT ON DESIGN SUBMITTED FOR THE FEDERAL CAPITAL CITY OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA
A. J. Macdonald.
Cazaly's Contract Register, Supplement, August 15, 1912.
A native of Fitzroy, Victoria, Alexander James Macdonald (1864-1951) moved to Scotland with his mother after the death of his father. He was indentured to the Edinburgh architect Charles S. J. Johnston in 188387. By 1888 he had returned to Australia to work in Melbourne for architects T. J. Crouch and Smith and Johnson. With Philip Treeby he designed the Oriental Coffee Palace on Bay Street, Brighton in 1888.
The following year he began work as Assistant Architect (third Grade) for the eastern section of the Victoria Public Works Department. For the department he designed a number of public buildings, several in the Scottish Baronial/American Romanesque style. Among them are the court houses in Flemington, Cheltenham (demolished), Omeo, Euroa, and Bairnsdale, the acknowledged masterpiece. He also designed several post offices, including one at South Yarra, and police stations. In March, 1892 he presented a paper before the Architectural and Engineering Association on "Remarks on the Scottish Systems of Household Drainage and their Value as a Precedent." A month later he was elected an Associate of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, which would in 1916 elect him a Fellow.
In 1897 he left architecture to accept a position as Examiner of Patents and Trade Marks in the Victorian Law Department. Later, in 1904, Macdonald became Examiner in charge of Civil Engineering and Construction, Commonwealth Patent Office. It was while in that office that he submitted his design for the new Federal Capital.
Some modern scholars state that his design "was one of the eight final entries in the competition" (Petersen) or "He was one of the eight shortlisted in the Federal Capital competition," (Lewis). This claim is based on a statement in Cazaly's Contract Register: "Amongst the last eight designs from which the judges decided to make their final choice, we have elicited, was one submitted by a Melbourne competitor (No. 9)."
Macdonald met the winner of the competition, Walter Burley Griffin, when Griffin came to Australia in 1913, and Macdonald volunteered to serve as Griffin's assistant. Griffin's efforts to have him officially seconded to his office failed, although Macdonald did some further private work for Griffin when the American returned to the U.S. in preparation for his permanent move to Australia.
In 1918, Scientific Australian published Macdonald's Griffinlike design for a settlement scheme in the Victorian Mallee. This featured half of an octagonal street complex with the railway station as its center and--eight blocks away at the other end of a wide boulevard--another district composed of concentric semicircles surrounding the "Civic, Commercial, and Technical School Centre." Six "Residential and Shopping Centres" provided focal points for as many neighborhoods.
Macdonald in 1920 proposed a plan for a civic center for Melbourne, a design published that September in the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects Journal. John Sulman also took note of this proposal in his book published the following year, An Introduction to Town Planning in Australia. In 1923 Macdonald, then Chief Technical Officer for the Melbourne Metropolitan Town Planning Commission, prepared a proposal for a green belt around the growing metropolis.
In response to the invitation of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, the accompanying design for laying out the Federal Capital City is submitted for consideration, in terms of the Conditions of Competition issued to competitors on the 1st June, 1911.
The drawings include:-
(1) A design for the city, drawn on the map of contour survey, 400 feet to one inch, as required by clause 2 of the Conditions of Competition.
(2) A perspective view overlooking the administrative centre; part of the commercial and civic centres; a corner of the science and art centre; a portion of the park lands; a distant view of the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, with the residence of the Governor-General and the State House on their fringes.
The perspective view is taken from a station point near the railway bridge, and marked X, and from an altitude of 4000 feet above sea level.
(3) A series of cross and longitudinal sections of the malls, avenues, and main traffic thoroughfares. The scales employed were 400 feet horizontal and 100 feet vertical and 20 feet to one inch respectively.
(4) Enlarged drawings of the Central Railway Station, and types of blocks to scales of 200 feet to one inch, with a cross section of the Central Railway Station to a scale of 80 feet to one inch. The types of blocks are those throughout the city, with sun traps, each block being set forty-five degrees to the meridian, showing the influences of sunlight and solar shadows in every part of the city as designed.
(5) A sketch illustrating the theory of an outer circle railway, from which might radiate railway and main traffic roads carrying fast trams, to tap the hinterlands at every point of the compass.
(6) Longitudinal and cross sections of storm water channels, the main arteries being shown in green lines on the Map of Contour Survey Drawing No. I.
The geometrical plans and sections have been prepared to
scales based on the British standards of measurement.
The general design has been illustrated to allow of the parks, gardens, and bridges being clearly indicated, and the buildings scheduled on page 8 of the Conditions of Competition under the heading of
" REQUIREMENTS."The outlines of and setting to the following buildings have been delineated in the subjoined numerical order:-
(1) The Residence of the Governor-General, occupying a stately and commanding situation.
(2) The Houses of the Parliaments, to which have been grouped around and in its proximity are:-
(a) The Department of Prime Minister,(3) The City Hall, 350 feet by 250 feet, situated in centre of garden block 800 feet by 750 feet. Chief eatures:--Completes vista of 200 feet wide; avenue from south-western suburbs, and of the 300 feet wide civic mall, with a view across the Great Lake to the industrial centre. Regulation of automobile (fast) and pedestrian (slow) traffic to its four entrances.
(b) The Department of External Affairs,
(c) The Attorney-General's Department,
(d) The Department of Home Affairs,
(e) The Department of the Treasury,
(f) The Department of Trade and Customs,
(g) The Department of Defence,
(h) The Postmaster-General's Department,
(i) The Mint,
(j) The Offices of the Government Printer.
(4) The State House.--Ecclesiastical in art, with chapels for denominations. Designed to be the repository of memorials to Australia's illustrious dead..
(5) The University and Affiliated Colleges, including Library, Engineering School, Medical School, in proximity to Infirmary, Women's College, and Denominational Institutions.
(6) The National Theatre occupies the summit of a hill, and completes another vista. Its setting is portrayed clearly in that perspective.
(7) The Public Library occupies the summit of Stoney Hill No. 1. It completes a vista looking north from Parliament House, and has a commanding position in the foreground of the city proper. It is approachable from four sides.
(8) The Museum occupies the summit of another hill, and has a commanding position in the foreground of the city proper. It is approachable from four sides.
(9) The National Gallery occupies the summit of Stoney Hill No. 2, and is approachable from four sides, the approach from the circular lake being worthy of an art centre.
(10) The Gallery of indigenous Art flanks the National Gallery on another rise to the north-west.
(11) The National Sculpture Gallery flanks the National Gallery on an eminence to the south-east.
(12) The Technical Colleges occupy another rise to the east of the National Gallery.
(13) Kurrajong; or, The Trail of National Glory.--The State House might be dedicated to the individual. Kurrajong, it is suggested, might be reserved as The Hill of National Glory. Sentiment has been likened to the mortar that binds. Great national deeds might be commemorated in stone on the steep slopes of Kurrajong. Upon its summit has been placed a great clock tower, visible for miles, and flanked with shelters for the people, whilst grouped around, to suit the contour are the sites for the national monuments.
(14) Residence of the Prime Minister is located near the entrance to the city and at the foot of the Administrative mall. Its front overlooks the public gardens, with the buildings of the art centre in the near distance and the Black Mountains as a background.
(15) The National Hotel and the National Coffee Palace are located opposite the Central Railway Station
(16) The Central Railway Station and Railway Marshalling Yards--(These are dealt with at-some length hereafter.)
(17) The General Post Office occupies a central position, and may be directly connected to the Central Railway Station by a tunnel, admitting of the mails being discharged from and delivered direct into the mail van, detached from the train for that purpose.
(No. 3 drawing clearly illustrates how the whole city may be commanded by underground traction without disturbing a single building.)
(18) Criminal and Police Courts occupy an eminence, and complete the vista of the cross street, the setting of the Courts being a fac-simile of that of the National Theater.
(19) The Courts of Justice, or the central seat of the High Court, occupies a commanding position, and completes the vista of the Commercial Mall.
(20) The Markets have direct connection with the Goods Sheds in the Railway Marshalling Yards.
(21) The Gas Works have direct connection with the Railway Marshalling Yards.
(22) The Central Tramway Carriage Depot, for 250 cars, with abundance of room for expansion. Branch Depots would be provided as required. Provision has been made for connecting the Depot directly with the Railway system, as it is recommended that the same gauge should be used for railway cars and street trams. It is recognized that electricity must soon completely supersede steam as the chief motive power.
(23) The Central Power Station has an area allotted of 80,000 square feet, with ample coal and water facilities. and abundance of room for extension.
(24) Infirmary, well isolated. (A surgical branch might be located near the Central Railway Station, for reception and attention of urgent accident cases.)
(25) Agricultural Show Ground and General Recreation Reserve.--Branch line from railway into show ground.
(26) Suburban Railway Station, sunk to admit of bridges for overhead traffic, with ramps for the platforms, on the same principle as the Central Railway Station.
(27) Industrial Hall and Exchanges. --As it is understood that the manufacture of military equipment and other productions is to be encouraged, and as the site of the city is the centre of a great wool producing territory, provision has been made for areas for the manufacturer and storeman, many of which could be directly connected with the railway system, the railway lines being continued through the warehouses from the Marshalling Yard, situated north of the suburban station. The Government factories would be situated near this centre.
(28) Hospital, on hill summit, with all its units lying 45 degrees to the meridian.
(29) Enclosed Sports Reserve.
(30) Stadium.--There is abundance of land here to develop this area on the lines of Shepherd's Bush, London.
The foregoing include allotment of sites for the buildings enumerated under "Requirements " in the Conditions of Competition.
Experience dictates that a Military Barracks and a Gaol are not fit institutions to be located in the dense centres of population. It is suggested that sites for both these institutions should be near the Rifle Range, located on the further slopes of Mount Ainslie (see No. 5 Drawing), or a site near the military encampment grounds and Field Artillery Range.
In addition to the foregoing, areas have been allotted for ecclesiastical, commercial, residential, and industrial purposes.
The city has been divided into Departments, thus:-
1. Administrative Centre.
2. Civic Centre.
3. Commercial Centre.
4. Science and Art Centre.
5. Industrial Centre.
6. Recreation Grounds. (The whole of the foreshore of the Great Lake and the hill tops being reserved for the people.
The proposed route from Yass to Queanbeyan, shown on Contour Plans, has been slightly modified to obtain, principally, a straight run into stations.
The street system provides for inter-communication between the centres of activity and between the distant parts of the city by means of the trolley car. It is recognized how important a part the trolley car has played in the development of the hinterlands of the world's great cities, and how it has aided in distributing population over vast areas for the good of mankind.
It is also admitted that the storage battery car, the petrol engine, and electric generator and motor are merely in their infancy, and that the day does not appear far distant when a tram-car will carry its own power. At any rate, the street system before you is adaptable to any of the recognized systems of electrical tramways.
A great lake has been designed along the valley of the Molonglo, the "sea wall" of which follows approximately the contour of the flood of 1891, and the water impounded by means of a weir proposed to be constructed in the situation shown on No. 5 Drawing.
As indicated in "Requirement 8," regulating weirs would be constructed on the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers to control the flood waters and equalise the flow of the river and maintain a constant level behind any weir within or near the city site.
This Great Lake was designed to afford an object lesson to all who may enter the portals of the city of how readily any Australian valley could be converted into a reservoir for the conservation of the winter rains.
In a country two-thirds arid--for Australia is the most arid of the continents of the world--the conservation of water is the most vital of all questions, and is undoubtedly Australia's root problem, its greatest internal national question.
The last great drought, according to Senator McColl, meant a loss of £130,000. It reduced the flocks and herds by 50 per cent. It was a national calamity which can only be averted by the water tank and the silo.
If Australia were pagan, water would be worshipped as a deity; nothing was more reverential to the gods of the ancients than the storage of water.
The great expanse of the lake would offer varied facilities for aquatic recreation; whilst its foreshores, reserved for the people, would afford abundant opportunity for the skill of the landscape gardener. It would, too, form a way for motor boat communication from shore to shore and along its wide expanse.
It is noted that the head of water from the Service Reservoir will supply all areas below the 2150 feet level. A supplementary reservoir has been placed on the summit of Red Hill, designed to contain about 8 millions of gallons, obtained by pumping. Its primary object is to augment the service supply for fire extinguishing purposes, and incidentally to provide a water supply for the Botanical Gardens and Arboretum on the slopes of Red Hill. It might be found advisable to place a service reservoir on Red Hill.
The streets have been designed to facilitate the rapid development of a sewage system along the lines of natural flow.
The design indicates (No. 1 Drawing) a scheme for the interception and disposal of the storm water discharging within the city area. The main arteries are indicated by green lines on No. 1 Drawing.
The storm water sewers have been calculated by the BerkleyZiegier formulae, and a maximum rainfall of 3 inches per hour has been assumed.
The mains are as tabulated.
Area in Acres
It is proposed to discharge, per an open outfall channel, the storm waters into two reservoirs, one to the north and the other to the south of the Molonglo, and to utilise the water for irrigating lucerne paddocks in connection with the military stock yards.
The Call of Hygiene.
The topography of the site offers no engineering difficulties. The storm waters may be readily intercepted, and the effluent conveyed to reservoirs near the sewage farm, and ultimately utilized for irrigation.
45 Degrees to the Meridian
The site admits of the application of every hygienic principle. Its main water-sheds, happily, lie in directions approximately 45 degrees to the meridian, affording to the designer a rare opportunity for so disposing of every block and every building so that each block and every building will lie 45 degrees to the meridian.
Sunlight the Greatest Disinfectant.
In the design before you every block and every building will receive winter and summer direct sunlight on each of its four sides at one or other period of the day.
The duration of direct sunlight in latitude 35 degrees south on each face of a rectangular building south-east, north-east, north-west, and south-west, as they lie in the design before you, according to a table prepared by Mr. G. H. Knibbs in 1901, is as follows:-
Face of Building
Mr. Knibbs further states:--"There is really no effective sunlight on the southern side of an E.W. building for practically seven months of the year. Obviously, the buildings and streets of a city should have as much direct sunlight as any general arrangement will admit of, and the total absence of such for at least six- months must be regarded as a serious defect."
The temptation to obtain circular, curved, tortuous, zig-zag, and suchlike streets, though very alluring, was abandoned in favour of a system of streets so disposed to the meridian as to secure floods of sunlight everywhere.
The picturesque, the surprise vista, the striving after artificial or meretricious effects were all subordinated to the imperative call of hygiene.
All reputable authorities agree that the Great White Plague is preventable, and that prevention is better than cure.
Consumption and its allied diseases find their origin in dark, cold, mildewed, sunless areas. Such should not exist in a modern city blessed with a sunny clime.
Let the picturesque arise, but not at the expense of the health of the people.
The picturesque can grow in health and beauty as the help maid of hygiene.
The picturesque can spring from utility, as all that is noblest and purest in art does. The flying buttress of the medieval cathedral sprang from utility; it was devised to overcome the thrust of the vaulting. So with the pinnacle of that buttress acting as the counterpoise; both features nobly useful, nobly picturesque.
The Blocks are based upon the precedents offered by Boston, New York, Washington, Montreal, and other modern cities. They are each placed 45 degrees to the meridian, and are mostly long and narrow, allowing for building lots, as shown on the Types of Blocks Drawing No. 4, and giving the distance required between streets in one direction close enough to provide convenient channels for the traffic.
Instead of long, narrow, dark rights-of-way as means of access to the backs of buildings courts are substituted. They might be called sun traps. They should be as wide as the buildings are high.
System of Streets.
Directness of route, plus easy grades, has been secured in the arrangement of the streets (No. 3 Drawing).
Professor Lewis M. Haupt, in a paper on " The Best Arrangement of City Streets" (Franklin Institute Journal," Jan.-June, 1877; page 252), submitted his now well-known formulae which has been followed. The system is a combination of the rectangular with the diagonal.
The number of people displaced is less than 3 per cent. by the use of the diagonal streets, which is abundantly provided; for, as Professor Haupt points out in his paper, by the additional frontage on the diagonals.
In Rome, London, Paris, and New York the increased values which wide diagonal streets gave when cut through rectangular blocks paid for the expense of the improvements.
The system of streets, as shown on the plan, it is proposed should continue to a mall running concentric with the proposed outer circle railway (Plan No. 5). This mall would be similar in design to that which is parallel with the Central Railway Station, and connected by bridges, etc., to another avenue concentric with the proposed outer circle railway.
As the city expands outwards from the centres of activity it might be found more advantageous to adopt diagonal avenues bearing 60 degrees instead of 45 degree, to the centres of activity. That problem has not been solved, for the want of a contour map, but it would appear evident, from the character of the country, that this could readily be done.
The roads on Red Hill and Black Mountain have been laid out to obtain the minimum amount of variation of level practicable.
Width of Streets.
The Administrative Centre has a mall or garden 1600 feet wide- between the Public Offices, through which runs a central street 200 feet wide from the loop at the Central Railway Station. The Civic and Commercial Malls are each 300 feet wide, with gardens in the centre.
The avenue connecting the Civic and Commercial Malls is 200 feet wide.
The main avenue, running east and west through the centre of the city from the loop at the Central Railway Station, is 180 feet wide.
The diagonal avenues vary from 160 feet to 120 feet, as required by the traffic necessities.
No street within the city proper is less than 100 feet wide.
It is proposed to systematically grade the areas cutting off the crowns of hills and depositing the spoil in the nearest valleys and depressions, and thus secure equable grades to every point of the compass throughout the city site.
The initial expense of a comprehensive system of grading is unimportant in comparison with the ultimate expense of maintaining imperfectly graded streets, the storm channels, the surface channels, the sewerage system, and the effect upon abutting properties. Easy grades mean economy in traffic--indeed, economy all round.
The streets, except those on the slopes of Black Mountain, all admit of the use of bitumen as a road surface. The grades may be readily comprehended by reference to the longitudinal sections shown on Drawing No. 3.
Macadam roads made of crushed stone and bound with rolled screenings and water are out of date. The automobile has settled that form of road. The modern road has to carry high speed traffic, and no road or street which is not surfaced with bitumen or its equivalents can be made dustless.
The dust problem in Australia is a very serious and formidable one. It is not merely a nuisance, but a grave menace to health.
Tyndall declared "that all the havoc of war, ten times multiplied, would be evanescent if compared with the ravages due to atmospheric dust."
Pasteur, in his researches, has demonstrated that in dusty air death-dealing micro-organisms colonise and carry infection.
In dustless air sterilized milk will not sour, no matter how warm it may be; nor will meat putrefy.
The aim has been to provide a dustless city-
1st. By so grading the roads and streets as to admit of the use of bitumen,
or its equivalents, for all surfaces;
2nd. By providing at the great intersections arboreal covers and fountains;
3rd. By so disposing the parks as to aid in intercepting the dusts; and
4th. By arranging for the main avenues being clothed with trees.
Central Railway Station.
The reconciliation of the stern calls of commercialism with those of art was the most difficult of all the problems. The idea always uppermost was to place utility first, and allow art to grow upon that healthiest of environments.
The Central Station, No. 16 on No. 1 Drawing, has its platforms on the 1848 feet level, and its rails on the 1845 feet level. It could be placed at 1835 feet level. The main railway mall, 300 feet wide, would be on the 1865 or 1870 feet level, several depressions in the mall and abutting blocks being filled up from the spoil obtained in excavating the site for the Central Station.
This admits of the station being approached by two "high level" roads and by a low level "kite road."
The two high level roads would be looped; indeed, the tram system has no shunting stations, for everywhere it is looped.
At the railway mall, level and parallel with the "high level" roads, are arranged a shelter colonnade 40 feet wide, into which emerge the ramps from the platform, and from which trams can be entered at many positions for all parts of the city.
The low level road enters a porch at the main entrance to the station.
Provision has been made for six platforms 40 feet wide. It is quite apparent that the site is capable of holding several additional platforms. Room for four sets of rails has been allotted next to the retaining wall of the railway mall for through goods traffic, with shed accommodation in the south-east corner of the Railway Marshalling Yard, approached through a tunnel having three sets of rails. This tunnel would be formed of reinforced concrete and ventilated by an exhaust shaft associated with the tower of the Central Railway Station.
The Southern Marshalling Yard provides space for:-
(a) A Workshop, 1500 feet by 300 feet.
(b) Seven Goods Sheds, 100 feet by 120 feet.
(c) One Engine Shed and Coaling Depot.
(d) Two Carriage Shelter Sheds.
(e) And possibilities for expansion.
The Northern Yard provides space for:-
(a) One Engine Shed and Coaling Depot.
(b) Three Carriage Shelter Sheds.
In addition, there is a large area available for extensive additions.
Undergrounding the Tram Lines.
The Federal City is not for to-day or for to-morrow, but, all things being equal, for all time. It may be another Washington 100 years from now, but what will it be like 10,000 years from to-day ? Who is bold enough to prophesy ? Suffice it to be said: Give to the city you found to-day breadth and depth, lay it out so that its areas and streets are wide, and in such a manner that even if its broad streets may threaten congestion, the alternative is beside you to underground your express traffic, for it is slow and quick-moving traffic on the same route which causes congestion. In the design before you that has been considered. The Central Railway Station, being situated at the 1845 feet level (rail level), commands the whole city, and the underground tram lines could follow the routes of the avenues, and at no great death from their surfaces. The underground stopping places could be constructed under the sites of the intersections, and abundance of air and, if thought desirable, light obtained along the whole of the routes.
The interception and utilization of this sunlight has been a primary and persistent aim.
Every avenue, every street, and every court can be flooded with sunlight at some period each day throughout the year. The whole plan, from the construction of a road to the planning of House of Parliament, has been based upon the calls of hygiene, and healthy conditions and modern convenience have been placed before classic excellence and architectural grandeur. All that is great and noble and truthfully expressive in the world of architectural art springs from utility and healthful environment.
The direction of the prevailing winds has been noted. The Administrative, Commercial, and, to a great extent, the Industrial Centres have been placed within the sheltered zone, but the whole city could be directly swept by the refreshing north-east winds which frequently blow from the ocean.
Concerning the range of view, advantage has been taken to place the great public buildings on an eminence, but several hills, not suitable for public architectural edifices, are nevertheless reserved for the people. Red Hill, for instance, might be converted into an Arboretum or Botanical Gardens, for from its summit a magnificent near view of the city may be obtained, and a glorious panorama be unfolded along the valley between Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. From the summit of both these mountains the city would be shown to have a remarkable setting--in the foreground the Great Lake, with the city gently rising up the spurs of the Narrabundah Range, the middle distance richly clothed in verdure, and away in the background the great ranges carrying their snow-capped peaks.