DESCRIPTION OF SCHEME FOR LAYING OUT THE FEDERAL CAPITAL OF AUSTRALIA.
W. H. Price (Student) Sewerage Engineer's Office, Leeds. (Biographical note)
Thomas Cole, ed., Proceedings of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers 34 (1912-1913), 42-57.Arthur J. Price & Sons submitted this entry in the Australian Federal Capital Competition of 1912. Four members of the family were involved. Arthur J. Price ( ? - ? ) was the father of Alfred J. Price ( ? ), D. H. Price ( ? - ? ), and William Henry Price (1891-1951). The 1912-1913 issue of Proceedings of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers notes that Arthur was elected as a Graduate on June 21, 1894 and became a Member on June 29, 1899. In 1912-13 he was Surveyor to the Urban District Council of Lytham in Lancashire. In 1913 at the annual meeting of the Institution at Yarmouth he was awarded second prize in a town planning competition held by the Institution and judged by Thomas Adams, later to become one of the international leaders of planning.The Federal Capital City of the Commonwealth of Australia is to occupy an area of about sixteen square miles, of which about nine square miles is dealt with in the scheme shown on Plate No. 1. An area of about nine hundred square miles lying about seventy miles from the sea and one hundred and fifty miles south-east of Sydney in the Yass Canberra country has been reserved as Commonwealth territory, and it is in the northern portion of this country that the Capital City is to be laid out.
Alfred Price became a Graduate on Feb. 27, 1909 transferring to Associate Member on July 29, 1911 when he was in the Borough Surveyor's Office, in Eccles, Lancashire. By 1915 he had become an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. D. H. Price became an Associate on January 22, 1912, an Associate Member on July 29, 1911, and a Member on February 10, 1912. He was then Surveyor to the Bedwelty Urban District Council.
William Henry Price worked first as an articled clerk to his father, A. J. Price, Engineer Surveyor to the Lytham Urban Council and was employed there from 1908 to 1911. From 1911 to 1914 he was an Engineering Assistant working on sewerage and sewage disposal projects for the city of Leeds.
In the paper below William Henry identifies himself as a Student employed in the Sewerage Engineer's Office, Leeds. He presented this paper at the Annual Meeting of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers in London in July 1913. By 1915 he had become an Associate Member of the Institution. The second half of the paper is reproduced below. The first half --found elsewhere in this anthology--is a statement of general planning principles.
Although he states "he was only jointly responsible" for the Canberra plan submitted by "Arthur J. Price & Sons, Engineers & Surveyors," he also mentioned that the plan "presented an opportunity for a young man to try his `prentice hand' that may rarely fall to his lot in the future." This suggests that W. H. Price bore the main burden of preparing the plan. The paper is illustrated with the general plan that was among the 46 designs chosen by the competition judges for further investigation and photographed in Melbourne in 1912. Probably the sections and profiles reproduced in this paper were also part of the competition submission..
In seconding the vote of thanks, the City Engineer of Edinburgh, A.H. Campbell, a member of the Institution Council, praised young Price: "It is well for our Institution that we have such a junior member, capable of taking so admirable a part in the discussion of the subject of town planning. I have not heard whether this plan was premiated or not; but it certainly deserved a premium, if it did not get one." Shortly thereafter in a competition sponsored by the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, William Henry Price and Alfred J. Price won first prize for their design of a park and recreation ground. Their description of this design, together with three illustrations of its features, appeared in the Institution journal in March, 1915.
The population to be provided for is 25,000, and in the scheme now described it was estimated that this population would be reached in some fifteen years, 50,000 in thirty years, and 100,000 in fifty years. The principal plan presented for the guidance of the competitors was a contour plan to a scale of 400 feet to an inch, which showed the Molonglo River flowing practically through the centre of the city, the flood levels, the chief watercourses, woods, and hills, the suggested position and levels of the railway, the geological formation, and the contours of the site at every 5 feet.
Several other plans were given showing the position of the Commonwealth territory; a topographical map of the territory to a scale of one mile to an inch; a contour map of 20 chains to an inch, and maps showing the rainfall and temperature statistics, and a geological survey of the site. A very full description of the requirements of the city was given with the conditions of the competition, and reports on the geology and rainfall of the district were also supplied.
Models of the site of the city were exhibited in Australia, London, New York, and several colonial and continental cities. The model exhibited in London afforded very little additional information beyond what could be obtained from the large contour plan, and although the principal features of the scheme were settled on the contour plan before the model was inspected, there was no necessity to alter any of these as the result of the inspection. The scale of the model was a natural one, and on the small scale to which the model, representing some nine or ten square miles, was necessarily plotted, 50 feet rise or fall was scarcely noticeable. The contour plan to a scale of 400 feet to an inch was issued in duplicate, on one of which the laying out of the city was to be shown, and this was practically the only plan necessary with the full information given in the instructions to competitors. The capital city is to be the seat of Government, with Houses of Parliament, Government Offices, and Courts of Justice; and except for the manufacture of government stores is hardly likely to have any large industries within its borders. It will be essentially a residential city.
The Molonglo River runs through the middle of the site, which is surrounded with well-wooded hills, rising from 800 to 1000 feet above the level of the river. The prevailing winds are westerly and south-westerly, and are very cold and biting in winter, and these had to be fully taken into consideration in allocating the different areas, and fixing the sites of the main buildings.
The Houses of Parliament were located on Camp Hill, south of the Molonglo River, the position being central and dominant, well sheltered by a natural belt of trees from the cold westerly and south-westerly winds in winter, and open to the cooling north winds in summer. It is approached by easy gradients from, and within easy reach of, the central station, and commands fine views of the Molonglo River and the distant wooded slopes of the Black Mountain and other hills on the north. The Government offices are grouped together convenient to the Houses of Parliament, facing the Parliament Square and The Mall. The Post Office and Courts of Justice are near the central station, and the State House, Art Gallery, Museum, and Reference Library lie between the Houses of Parliament and the church of England cathedral and the university. A Roman Catholic cathedral is situated to the south of the Houses of Parliament, and the road devoted to club land, shown as Pall Mall.
The Government and civic areas are kept distinct, though both are fairly central, one on the south and the other on the north side of the river. The City Hall is placed on rising ground north of the river, a few feet lower than the Houses of Parliament and presenting from them a fine vista through The Mall and High Street. All the city officials would be housed here, and a large public hall would be provided in the centre of the building. In the City Square the police courts, free library, technical school, banks, and offices would present a fine opportunity for architectural effect.
The commercial and shopping area lies between the City Hall and Molonglo River, arcades running between the main streets. The markets are near the centre of the city and on the tram route. Small shopping centres are provided on the outskirts of the city. Sites for offices, banks, and hotels are provided, the chief hotels and pensions being near the central station and facing the lake and gardens near the centre of the city.
The chief residential area is south of the Molonglo River, and west of the railway. The Governor-General's house is placed in grounds of about one hundred acres in area to the south of the park and Houses of Parliament, and the Prime Minister and other Ministers' houses face the west side of the park. The plots are laid out for detached or semi-detached houses, and the size of the plots varies from some seven hundred feet square to the labourer's cottage or bungalow with thirty feet frontage and one hundred and forty feet depth. The building lines vary from twenty-five feet to one hundred and twenty feet, according to the size of the house and depth of building plots. As all houses are detached or semi-detached, no back streets are required save in the shopping areas.
The industrial area is located near the south-eastern entrance to the city between the railway and Jerrabomberra Creek. The chief goods yard or railway marshaling yard is near this point, and as the bulk of the coal and materials coming into the city will be required for industrial purposes, it is a matter of great convenience and economy, and avoids carting through the city. The prevailing winds will take away the smoke without nuisance to the residential area. The gas, electricity, and refuse destructor works, tramway depôt and car shed, and Government factories are located in the industrial area, and connected with rails to the goods yard. The cattle market, abattoirs, ice factory, and cold stores, are also placed near the goods yard.
The main streets in the Government and commercial areas are generally straight and direct from one important point to another, The Mall, connecting bridge, and High Street, form a continuous straight line between the Houses of Parliament and the City Hall; though the view would to some extent be broken by clock towers in the Station Place and at the north end of the bridge. Two boulevards, east and west of The Mall radiate from Parliament Square, while the City Hall is the radiating point for eight streets. The two cathedrals form the focal points of important streets or avenues, and in the smaller squares, crescents, and circuses, the vista is formed by churches or other important buildings. The chief buildings being built on elevated sites are visible frown various parts of the city, while good views of the parks and river are commanded from large portions of the district.
The contours of the site are such as to make the gradients of many of the roads somewhat steeper than desirable but, except in one or two cases, it is possible to get gradients not steeper than one in twenty-five; and in the business area the steepest gradient would be one in forty. The main streets and boulevards are laid out of a sufficient width to meet the requirements of the larger population which it is expected the city will ultimately reach, and the sections on Plate No. 2 show that they will be largely laid out as tree-planted boulevards or avenues with grass or gravel margins, or central plots.
In a hot climate such as Australia shelter from the trees is very desirable, while the tree-planted space costs little to lay out, and is always available for throwing into the roadway should the traffic in the future require the widening of the road. The roads have been given a width which may seem somewhat excessive to English ideas; but it must be borne in mind that the land costs nothing, that the city is the capital of a country which is a continent, that suitable road materials may be obtained on the spot, that the revenue from the sale of the land is available for the road making, and that the roads are largely planted with trees, or laid out as lawns. There is, therefore, no reason to adopt the cheese-paring ideas of many of the promoters of Garden City competitions, either with regard to widths or materials for road making.
The principal road, "The Mall," is a fine open boulevard 400 feet wide. The main feature of this road is the central lawn, 100 feet wide, laid out with flower beds, fountains, and statuary. Footpaths 25 feet wide are planted with one row of trees on each side of the 40 feet roads for slow traffic and service to the Government buildings. Two further strips, each 35 feet wide, laid out with three rows of trees as avenues or promenades, adjoin the 50-feet roads on each side of the central lawn. These roads provide space for quick traffic, half of the road being macadam for horses and the other half tar macadam for motor traffic. The High Street, which is the chief shopping centre, is 200 feet wide, has 25-feet footpaths, two 50-feet roads, and a central tree-planted plot 50 feet wide, on to which passengers will alight from the tramways. Other shopping streets are 120 feet, 100 feet, and 80 feet wide according to the importance of the position and the traffic. In each case a large portion of the streets is taken up by grass and trees, which lend beauty to the streets, provide shade, and save expense in street making, The arcades, which are 30 feet wide between the shops, would have rolling stairways to transport customers or clients to the shops or offices above the shops on the ground floor. The main ring boulevards are 150 feet wide with 20-feet footpaths, two 30-feet roads, and a central plot 50 feet wide with 10-feet gravelled footpaths and 30-feet grass plot in which the tramways are laid. Trees on the footpaths and on the sides of the tram track make a pleasant avenue. Other roads are 100 feet, 80 feet, 60 feet, and 50 feet wide, according to requirements and importance. The Park Drive is laid out 150 feet wide with 25-feet footpaths, two roads each 30 feet wide, and a central riding track 40 feet wide.
Subways, as shown on Plate No 3, are provided for the Government and main business roadways. Under The Mall and the road east of Pall Mall the main subway is made wide enough for coal trucks drawn by a small electric locomotive, and the pipes are carried above on rolled steel joists. Pipes for water, gas, electricity, and hydraulic power, pneumatic tubes for house refuse, or postal purposes, telegraph and telephone wires, and in the near future, petrol and liquid air, may all be provided for. On the north side of the river the main subway under the High Street is simply a pipe subway, and both main subways give access to the main sewers. Secondary or shallow service subways are provided for pipes on each footway adjoining the shops, and private subways are shown to the Government buildings and clubs.
The main bridge over the Molonglo River and across the lake, shown on Plate No. 4, is 150 feet wide on plan, though it is actually only 100 feet wide, as it consists of two 50-feet wide bridges with an open space 50 feet wide between them. The roads are connected at intervals of 100 yards alternately with footways and carriageways carried by arches harmonizing with the bridge arches. This arrangement allows the traffic to continue over the bridge in a straight line instead of being diverted by the contraction of the road from 150 to 100 feet, where the bridge and road meet. It gives more light and air to the roads, river, lake, or gardens under the bridge, and lessens the tunnel-like character of the arches of the bridge. It allows a bridge of a somewhat novel and unique type to be constructed at a cost of little more than the 100-feet wide bridge, while presenting the appearance of a 150-feet wide bridge. It also affords opportunities for artistic treatment of balustrades, piers, and lamp standards. Pipe subways are placed under the footpaths. Other bridges are 80 feet and 50 feet wide, and footbridges are provided at several points over the railway and river.
Tramways are provided to reach the suburbs, and on the ring boulevards they are laid in the grass plot, which not only makes easier running and gives a pleasanter outlook, but saves enormously in the construction and maintenance of the track. The line and levels of the railway were suggested on the plan issued to competitors, and it was only necessary to alter the levels to provide headroom for the roads running under the railway bridges, or the railway under the road bridges. The Central Station is practically in the centre of the city, and suburban passenger stations are placed It miles north and 1 3/4 miles south of the Central Station.
The railway marshalling yards or chief goods yard is located at the south-eastern entrance to the city in the midst of the Industrial area, and large warehouses are erected there. Small goods yards are placed at the central and northern stations.
Ample provision is made for parks and recreation grounds, and the natural belt of woodland and park on the outskirts of the city will assist in the future development of the city. The chief park is located at the rear of the Houses of Parliament enclosing the hill called Kurrajong, and has an area of about 200 acres. It is well timbered and watered. The trees would be preserved as far as possible, and the watercourses would be made a picturesque feature with waterfalls, ferns, etc., as well as being used for storm-water purposes. A botanic garden, aviary, observatory, shelters, and braids, with fountains, conservatories, and shrubberies add to the attractiveness of the park. The roads are laid out as avenues for pedestrians, riders, and vehicular traffic. Smaller parks and gardens are provided in various parts of the city, and in the squares, crescents, and circuses, small enclosed gardens are shown. Large ornamental gardens with boating lake, bandstand, fountain, and terrace, are formed near the centre of the city adjoining the river. This land is below the flood-level and is protected by a broad tree planted embankment and roadway. The land below flood-level has practically all been reclaimed and reserved for recreation purposes; the stadium, cricket, football, and golf grounds, military exercising ground, racecourse, and show ground all being located in this area.
The Church of England cathedral has a church house and Bishop's residence near to it. The Roman Catholic cathedral has a presbytery and convent school adjoining, and there are churches in suitable situations for the other denominations. A university, high school, technical school, and four elementary schools are provided.
A national theater and a music hall are situated near the Central Station, and sites for other places of entertainment are provided in other districts. The barracks, gaol, and mint are placed near the eastern boundary, and drill halls are located convenient to the military exercise grounds and rifle range. A sanatorium, infectious diseases hospital, general hospital or infirmary, and cottage hospital are provided in suitable situations. Central baths and three open-air-bathing places, a cemetery containing three chapels and a crematorium, and a fire station, are also shown.
The Molonglo River is converted into a series of large lakes by impounding the river water by weirs. These hold the water up to such a level that it will make the river suitable for boating and bathing for about three miles, though at the same time the levels of the weir are kept sufficiently low to prevent flooding.
There is a considerable fall from the east to the west of the city, and no difficulty should be experienced in providing good falls for the main and other sewers, and avoiding pumping. The northern sewer would have to be carried across the river near the western weir, either by means of an inverted siphon, or by steel pipes supported on cast-iron piles and columns. The sewage disposal works are to be located some six miles west of the city. Storm water should be treated separately, and as far as possible the natural watercourses should be used for the purpose of storm-water drainage. They all empty into the Molonglo River, and where they run under the roads they will be culverted, or in some cases bridged over.
The collection of refuse from the Government and shopping areas would be by a suction pipe worked from the destructor works by a vacuum pump as described at page 48. The system might be extended to the residential areas, but if not, carts, vans, or motor wagons may be employed. For street watering and gardening purposes special pipes should be laid in the principal streets, boulevards, and gardens.
A longitudinal section to a natural scale of 100 feet to an inch, which though not reproduced in this paper it is hoped may be published in the Proceedings, was given from the Houses of Parliament to the City Hall. This drawing [reproduced below] showed in section the Houses of Parliament as a domed building in the classic style, with terraces, gardens, and fountains in the Parliament Square and facing the Park; elevations of the Government offices; the colonnaded Station Square, with clock tower, and Station Hotel; the main bridge over the gardens, lake, and river; the banks and shops in the High Street; and a section through the City Hall. The style of architecture suggested for the public buildings was classic, or the adaptation of it known as renaissance, and the banks, hotels, and business premises were a somewhat freer type of the same style.
In conclusion, the Author hopes that the consideration of town planning in the wider and general view which he has attempted to place before the Institution, may prove to be of service even to those who are called upon to deal with only a small or partial scheme. The principles which underlie all sound planning are of wide application, and it is the study of these principles combined with common sense and experience which can alone produce the ideal town plan.
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