Designing Canberra

A presentation by Aldo Giurgola, Hal Guida and Pamille Berg

Transcript

Zöe D'Arcy: Good afternoon and welcome to the National Archives. I must say, given this horrible rainy weather, I can't think of a better thing to do with a Sunday afternoon than come and listen to such interesting speakers as we have for you.

My name is Zöe D'Arcy and I'm the director of Communications and Programs here at the National Archives. I know you're not here to listen to me, so I'll keep myself very, very brief.

I'd like to welcome today's panellists, from nearest to furthest: Tony Powell, Aldo Giurgola, Pamille Berg and Hal Guida, to deliver today's Speakers Corner – Designing for Canberra. All four of our speakers were key figures in different roles in the design and construction of Australia's Parliament House.

Today's talk came about because of quite an exciting opportunity. Several months ago Pamille got in contact with me and said that she was organising an exhibition up at Parliament House to commemorate Aldo's 90th birthday, which took place in September, and we happened to have some drawings in our collection that she'd like to borrow.

I thought what a fantastic opportunity for us to actually draw out some of the Griffin plans and show you some of Aldo's drawings as well, so that we could have a bit of a discussion about, well, if you're going to be building something of such national significance, how do you incorporate that into the already nationally significant plan that was Walter Burley Griffin's vision of Canberra? I'm hoping that today's panellists will certainly shed quite a bit of light on that process.

We actually received so much overwhelming response to this talk that we have an overflow room. We have our people viewing in here, but we also have a few people who are viewing this in a small room off to the side on our ground floor. I'd like to welcome those people as well.

I'll give you a very quick introduction to today's speakers. Firstly, Tony Powell, who is going to be today's moderator for the talk, is a town planner and civil engineer. He is former commissioner for the National Capital Development Commission, a member of the Parliament House Construction Authority, and he is currently writing a book on the planning and development of Canberra from an urban history standpoint.

Romaldo Giurgola, or Aldo, was born in Rome and studied architecture at the University of Rome and the Columbia University. As senior partner of Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects he was the principal design architect for Australia's Parliament House from its inception in 1980 until 1999. Since his official retirement from MGT Architects Aldo has continued to work as a consultant, most notably as design architect for St Patrick's Cathedral in Parramatta, New South Wales. He has received numerous awards for his work throughout his career and, as I mentioned earlier, celebrated his 90th birthday this September.

Pamille Berg is one of Australia's most experienced public art consultants, having completed the inception and coordination of major public art programs in Australia and overseas for nearly 25 years. While serving as partner of Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects for 14 years, she completed the master plan and coordination for the $13 million Parliament House art program, overseeing commissions to over 200 artists and craftspeople. Pamille now runs her own company focusing on the provision of art and architecture for master planning.

Hal Guida has over 40 years of international experience on wide-ranging architectural, interior design and urban design projects undertaken in the US, Australia, South-East Asia and China. From 1981 to 1988 he was partner in charge of design and coordination for Australia's new Parliament House, with Mitchell/Giurgola & Thorp Architects. Recent projects designed by Mr Guida in Canberra include the new passenger terminal for the Canberra International Airport, Canberra Primary to Year 10 School and the Kingsford Smith School.

A quick reminder to everybody to turn off their mobile phones. We will have some questions afterwards. In the meantime I would like you to welcome Tony Powell. [Applause]

Tony Powell: Thank you, Zöe, ladies and gentlemen. This is the first time in my career that I've ever been a moderator. I don’t quite understand why that is because I would have thought the word moderate would spring to people's lips whenever my name was mentioned. [Laughter] Anyway I'm sure you will be kind to me as I weave my way through.

What I propose to do is to talk for the next five minutes about the 70-year journey that preceded the commissioning and completion of the Parliament House. I want to start with two propositions. The first is that many aspects of Australian culture are inimical to the achievement of good design. The second point I want to make is that the fact that the Parliament House exists in Australia, in Canberra, on Capital Hill, is nothing short of a miracle.

Now, to start with Griffin's 1913 plan, the essence of that, it's fundamental landscape design approach, and the quality of Marion Mahony Griffin's drawings won the day at a time of relatively unsophisticated political circumstances.

The second incident in the 70-year journey that was significant was Sir John Sulman's infusion of garden city principles into the early planning of Canberra. Griffin was not a garden city planner. He was a kind of a [Bows Arts] planner, and these drawings show an image of kind of 18th-century Paris. It's not a garden city kind of structure.

It was Sulman that influenced the early development of Canberra, the idea of important buildings being set in their own park precinct; the idea of avenues and wide verges and so on and so forth. If you go into suburbs like Griffith, for example, what you see there is the application of Sulman's principles; his idea of garden city planning.

Then the third key time was the work of the Senate Select Committee Inquiry 1954/55, which led to the eventual establishment of the NCDC. That committee was instrumental largely because the chairman of the committee, John McCallum, was enthused with the need for a national capital and also recognised that unless an initiative came from the Parliament, then the new Parliament buildings would not be built.

The second person who was important in that regard was Peter Harrison, who eventually became the chief planner of the NCDC. He was the person, in his evidence before the select committee, who put forward the notions of what Griffin's ideas meant when you apply them to a place like Canberra and a site like the central national area. Because he was a very forceful speaker and a strong personality he won over the committee, particularly McCallum used Peter Harrison as a guide throughout the whole process of the work of the joint committee.

The next incident and person was John Overall who, when appointed commissioner of the NCDC, John Overall's interest wasn't particularly realising Walter Burley Griffin's dream. His commission from Prime Minister Menzies was to build the city, to build the government offices, the housing, the infrastructure that would enable the Commonwealth to start to move, effectively, the seat of government from Melbourne to Canberra.

John Overall was an architect, but he was a very practical individual. He surrounded himself not with other architects, but with engineers and with people who had particular financial management skills. It was that combination of Overall's energy, determination, practicality, that got the city development of Canberra going, but it did not get the development of the heart of the national triangle going.

When I arrived at the NCDC in 1973 I was 39 years of age. I'd had a lot of experience outside of Canberra, but nobody knew who the hell I was. Within a few weeks of taking up the post I had a presentation from the architectural division of the NCDC, a presentation led by Paul Reid, who was later the chief architect of the NCDC.

In that presentation what they showed me was the idea they'd been working on for the previous five years, which was to put a vast concrete slab over the whole of the area from the lake foreshore back to King Edward Terrace or whatever it is. On top of that they would put the lakeside Parliament. You can see today that the High Court and the National Gallery are still stuck up in the air, with the entry point one level above ground level.

When I had that presentation I thought to myself, because I was only 39, I thought these people do not know what they're doing. I said there is no way in God's world that you would have the time or the money to put a vast concrete slab and then expect that someone's going to come along and build a parliament house, gallery, et cetera, et cetera. I remember the next morning, when I was in my shower, because that's where I always do my best thinking, I thought to myself 'I am not going to be the commissioner that failed to get the Parliament House built on Capital Hill'.

Now, that might have been a bit of a boastful frame of mind, but within a few months, fortunately, there was a fire in the north-west corner of the Parliament House building and there had been some difficulty or some concern that they may not be able to evacuate the staff. It was then the commission's job to rebuild the burnt fabric and provide the money and do the work.

Within a month the ACT chief fire commissioner came to my staff and said, 'Look, it is not possible to rebuild this building, to redo this work, and make a building like this safe. It is a fire trap'. My staff came to me and said the fire chief doesn’t want to say this. I said, 'Look, why don’t we give him the $50,000 or so that he needs. He should go away, do a study, come back and tell us all of that'. Then what we will do, [and what we did] is we will then use that as a presentation to the joint standing committee on the Parliament House, and to say it is not possible to fireproof this building. What we think, the NCDC, is you need a new building; not only to get a safe building, but also because we cannot rework the provisional Parliament House to satisfy the needs of a 21st-century Parliament.

The next phase then was that in putting that sort of message to the joint planning committee. Fortunately the presiding officers, particularly the speaker Sir Billy Snedden were enthused with the whole idea. So the presiding officers got the Parliament members to adopt a bipartisan view about (a) whether there should be a new Parliament House and (b) whether it should be on Capital Hill. With that kind of support behind us what we then did is we said to the committee we will now enter into an investigation, which in fact, took about two years, in which we will identify what the needs are. What does the Parliament need? How does that translate into floor space and so on and so forth?

When we had their backing for the scale of the problem, I then went to Tommy Wren, who was the [manager] and I said look, in the commission's view there should be a new parliament house and it should be on Capital Hill. Tommy Wren was in favour of having a new Parliament House on Camp Hill, and so was the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.

He and I went and saw Whitlam, and I explained the situation to him. Whitlam said to Tommy Wren, 'We will put this to the Parliament as an open vote'. Then he said to me, 'You can be sure that if we do that it will go through like a house on fire because every Catholic in Parliament will vote for it'. I thought 'oh'. Anyway, you know what I mean. We got the decision that there will be a new Parliament House and it will be on Capital Hill.

The final point that I want to make is that Mitchell/Giurgola won the competition. They won the competition because they produced a functionally efficient layout, which was very important to all of the members and to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.

The second thing is that it was a brilliant design architecturally. Thirdly, the images, the drawings that were presented to the politicians and the members were entrancing. In other words, if you remember the plan of the Parliament House with those sweeping curves, with the associations of landscape, that's what finally won the day; in exactly the same way as, years earlier, Marion Mahony Griffin's beautiful drawings were what clinched, in the minds of the ordinary person, the merits of the plan.

I remember Malcolm Fraser saying, not in these sort of elegant words, in looking at the Mitchell/Giurgola submission and having regard to the other five finalists, he said, 'Daylight is second'.

My point there is that inevitably, in the process of urban development, there are separate periods when a whole lot of things have to come together before you get an output. The first and most important is the role played by individuals. The second is the role played by institutions, and the third is to have the right political climate. So we've gone through a sequence that I've just described. The Parliament House is there, so my first question to Aldo and to his colleagues is that what aspects of that 70-year journey, that 70 years of evolution of step by step, what aspects of that registered in the minds of Aldo and his colleagues, as the designers, and in what way?

Aldo Giurgola: One thing that I did notice in the representation here was that there was a brief for us. When we received this brief in New York we were sort of flabbergasted in a way, because we never saw a more thorough presentation of a project like that one. [laughter]

There were two big books, thick like that. You thought, 'Well where do you start?', because it wasn't a matter of going through the books and looking at numbers about so many square feet for that and for the other thing. There was an elaboration of a concept that was slowly being assimilated. We realised the significance of this thing.

Don't forget we were in New York, where people were – when you mentioned Australia – would say where is it? That was usually the response. To have this...thorough presentation was really a challenge that we had to meet somehow. We were sure we would get through.

The brief, therefore, was perhaps the first moment in which we really came in contact with the place. Obviously, in the office, since we didn't know where Australia was, we had lots of literature from Australia. We had Patrick White...and all the literature, which was a little different to what I imagined; because there was this contest between these briefs so perfectly done, so contemporary, so up to date and so on and the dreams of Patrick White and the Aboriginal people and all the other things that we didn't know anything about.

That was the first thing. That tells one thing, that, really, the first impression we get is the importance of the content in the process of making a project. This is one thing that we often forget because the urge to make form is so intense all the time, you know. Ideas come but you start to dream of form. You have to go back a moment and you have to realise the importance of content in a project and process the content; start to understand. We were forced to do that because we didn't know anything about Australia.

So there was a new education that we started to develop in New York, in the West Side. Really, it taught us that if this step in the project, and will be also for the Parliament, we thought, was the process of this content. I realise I'd made that part of my sense of working into any project as the first step to make.

Before I get into that, we started to do this, before I get into form, let's say. Then gradually...the project that we did in the first presentation was about exactly the same as the second presentation, because the first presentation was a selection five projects. Then from these five projects, from 350 projects they selected five. The interesting thing we didn't really change anything from the first to the next step.

That is because we spent a tremendous amount of time... trying to understand the place. I promised myself that every time I start a project not to...form right away because we end up doing the most up-to-date thing, the most acceptable thing and the most fashionable thing, if you wish, and so on.

The process included a very important factor. For instance, is this going to be a piece of triumph of architecture or a big monument or something. So all these issues came up. We have lots of Parliament House[s], but they always said...soldier outside with the guns and so on to check the public...pretty much the same.

They had a rhetoric that consequent to a contemporary view of the world, especially, we thought, by reading Patrick White again, but also by sensing the place. Australia was different.

So we proceeded with this investigation of what we could come out in terms of relationship before form. So the first thing that really came to mind in the group was the landscape, the land. Not only the land and the landscape. That's where Griffin came out. By the way I had a particular relationship with Griffin because 70 years ago, when I was at school, there was a plan of – on the wall of the classroom – of Canberra... a huge piece of paper and it was an illustration.

They had a special place – in Rome, yes. That remained in my mind all the time; every time that I was thinking. So much that the certain point...your competition here for the monument to Burley Griffin on top of Mount Ainslie, nothing came out. At that time they were making a competition and nothing was coming out of it.

I made a solution with glass and with mirrors so that you can see the city in every direction. So you already had some kind of connection, even if you didn't see anything. So that was the land because of its stronger point, in a sense, the configuration of the land. Then Griffin came in, because the plan of Griffin was essentially focusing on the element in relation to the built element.

The great thing about that plan, really, apart from a physical standpoint, is this continuous relation of natural elements – Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain and so on, and the figures that were made in the ground, the buildings that were there. That is illustrated in a superb way by the Mahony Griffin drawings, into that we can see here. That was a unique perception of town planning.

Town planning can be very dull sometimes because it's subjected of lots of forces that are neglecting the humanity of a place; but Griffin always had the humanity. It's not just the poetry and beautiful drawings and so on. Behind the beautiful drawing there is this strong perception of the humanity of a place that had a relationship with nature. That is a particular relation of pleasure, a relation of presence; all sorts of things. It's not just ecology.

Today we talk a lot about that. We talk of ecology, which is a different thing. It could be very dangerous also to think in those terms because you end making the Buckminster Fuller Dome, where you reproduce the ecological contest inside a dome. So you can imagine what could be.

Griffin comes in that way really. Eventually, when we arrived here, finally I could see the three-dimensional reality of the place. Certainly we came here from the States and together we shared this wonderful responsibility that we had to [unclear]. That was the first kind of contact that I had in some way with the place and the first reaction that we had; because when we arrived on the site we spent a tremendous amount of time going up and down [in the thing] and so forth.

It was essentially the topography that fascinated us because Griffin never built on top of a hill... We thought that there was a good and very wise kind of intuition about building the Parliament on top of the hill because it was a focus of another nature. One preoccupation that we had immediately was not to make a monument on top of a hill. Every city has a dome for a Parliament in every state. That's exactly the thing we were trying to, we didn't say it would be atrocious to have buildings of that sort.

The inspiration came by strange thing actually. The War Memorial has two walls. It is designed with a long court with two walls. We went there. It has this...sensation of penetrating something, but in a... found a new way, new things within this penetration; not just a channel or a corridor. The two parallels of those walls were one thing that stuck in our mind a little bit.

Then, eventually, the relationship with the outside, the order that the system created, because there was the system, check and balance, the precision of these two things; presence of the government also in the same building. Therefore I did three big institutions there. So it needed order. We responded with the order of symmetry, which is not an absolute symmetry, looking at details, but symmetry. Symmetry is a bad word, because symmetry is always associated with monumental buildings, with totalisation, and so it is a difficult thing to handle in some way.

We had the triangle of Griffin there, and we have an apex of the triangle at that point. It was very difficult to ignore the presence of this triangle. In fact, we won the competition only because we did that, nothing else...In addition to that there was a circle. From the circle came the curved wall, because the only way, really, to deal with the circle is another circle, another curvalinear form. That's nothing new. Thomas Jefferson, in his library in the University of Virginia, had a circle and also had two walls that come in the same way – not the same way, but the same kind of form in order to make a harmonious relationship with the circle. We had two big circles already. Those were there since quite a while.

Not only that, but the circle gave it the potential to make the natural element, the natural site, close to the centre of the building. So, in fact, the trees and things proceed. There is nothing underground in that building, despite Fraser saying that it is buried underground. Every room, every place has windows and open space and so on inside. That is the genesis, this form that is intimately related with the content, the value of content of the building itself.

Hal Guida: Well, Aldo's done that very well. There's not a lot to say, but I think, to fill in a couple of spots that Aldo talked about, he talked about the brief for the competition coming and how well it was done. What he implied, but didn't say quite precisely, is how elegantly the democratic process was explained and how the government operated in a daily way so that we could understand how to give the kind of planning content to a building, because the brief did that very well.

That's a kind of level, and it was what Tony talked about; making that document, of what it is you need to satisfy the Parliament's operations. So that was very clear and very helpful to understand how the democratic process operates in Australia.

The second thing that the brief said very clearly was that they wanted a building of meaning, not just a fancy building, not just a big building, not just a practical building, but something that people could find meaning in and could last for ages. It could be interpreted as an expression of that democracy and of the character of the Australian people. That was written in the brief. That's almost as big a miracle as Tony's description of the whole 70-year miracle, because briefs are almost always about just the functional elements; just those practical things. Here was an expression of a desire for something that had meaning. So that was very important to us.

Like Aldo, not 70 years ago, but maybe 50 years ago, when I was in school, we studied Griffin too. I mean it's interesting that whilst Americans are a little uncertain about where Australia is, architects study Griffin. We all knew Canberra. As Aldo said, he talked about the competition. The competition that Aldo described brought us in contact with Griffin afresh was two years before the Parliament House competition. So we had been looking at Canberra. We'd been re-reading Griffin. We'd been looking at the meaning of his intentions to be able to make a competition submission that could be selected to win and be a memorial on top of Mount Ainslie, as Aldo said. Nothing came of it.

In fact, I remember seeing all the competition drawings in Tony's basement, in the NCDC basement one time, and wondering if ours was still there; sort of looking through them all. The parameters for doing a good job were established so well that it gave support for us as a team, working, to really get in and study it and think about it well.

I think two other things, just related to the process that Aldo described. We did very big drawings of Canberra in the office – not just the site. I'm sure there were some architects who just drew the circle and designed within the circle. We picked the triangle, as Aldo described it, all the way to the War Memorial, across the lake.

We recognised that Griffin's intentions were not to try and stop an axial landscape endeavour with a building on top of a hill, because he talked about the Brindabellas beyond. So his sense was that this big landscape space had an association with a much bigger landscape and that Capital Hill was just a moment in that bigger thrust of space. I think we gathered some sense of that by making very big drawings of Canberra.

The other thing is we drew the sections and made a model of the site, and we realised that the hill, in fact, was quite modest. At first you think it's a big hill. Then, when you start to really draw it and come in contact with it – we had this big model. It's about as big as this table, round, to work with, it was just [unclear] a little slow. So your intentions of how to work with it become different. As Aldo said, if you'd put a wedding cake kind of capital building on top, it would have looked absurd. It just wouldn’t be right. Again, it wasn't in the spirit of what Griffin's plan was about, as we understood it, which was about the land and really understanding the subtleties of the Basin.

Pamille Berg: I think the only thing that I would add to that, which to all of us in the intense discussions that were happening in the midst of the 70 and 80-hour weeks that everyone, including very young ones in the office, as well as – Hal was young then, I was young then. Aldo was full of vigour and in middle age. [Laughter] So in the midst of that environment, what was happening in those deep discussions was also a huge sense of humility and responsibility. I think those are important words now, in our time, in terms of the making of a city, the making of a place for people.

Our awareness about the Griffins and about their words – even though we weren’t, and still aren’t, Griffin scholars by any means, but the reading that we did made it clear that Griffin, in talking about his competitions for Canberra and his involvement here, when he was talking about saying I haven’t done a design for the competition of Canberra which I expect to be approved. He said I haven’t done a design which is thought about as a design which I think will please the people who are going to be judging it.

Instead, he said I expect this to be my one and only ever competition entry in my life. The reason I'm doing it is because I believe it's important to do an ideal city for the future. His words, later, were about the whole notion of an ideal city in terms of what it means to actually live, to embody ideas.

He talked about how the essential thing about Canberra was that it was a place where all of us – and we can all say us now because we're proper Australians, rather than then, when we used to say all of you [laughter] – but since is saying all of us must forget our parochialism, and he used that word. He said all of us must let go of dogmatic ideas and instead, in making a city like Canberra, we must be making a place which is at the scale of our sense of who we are as a nation.

Now, when you read those words and you think then about having the opportunity and the privilege to be involved in the design of one of the very few capital buildings, Parliament House buildings, Congress buildings in the 20th century, which is what we were aware of. We were at the end of the century. There had only been three or four or five that were significant. This was going to be one at the end of the 20th century, but then, after all, had a 200-year minimum life span and brief. So the seriousness and augustness of that was really about the privilege of saying well, if we believe in democracy, if we actually believe that a democracy is capable of enshrining ideas that count for all of us and in making good lives for all of us, then the whole notion of this building is that is has to be something which represents democracy as those essential ideas which are about making good lives for everyone, not just those of us who happen to be a privileged few.

So those ideas became fundamental in the design team, in terms of that embodiment of form, of saying it cannot be something which is the thing on top of the land. It cannot be a building which is seen as a fist on top of a common people. It has to be something which appears to grow from who we are. The expression of the flag mast is one where instead of the building having the dome or the classical or the – as Aldo came with fully in the back of his mind, given his origins in Italy – the sense of the horror of the fascist overpinnings and grandeur of things.

Instead, this had to be something which was an architecture about simplicity, about modesty, about what we called in the competition submission the fundamental dignity of free people and the lives that they try to make for themselves.

So, I guess, going back to this notion of your 70 years of moments, I think all three of us have said that to a great degree you all created one of those moments by writing a brief which, in subsequent research, we realised that it had taken almost 13 years to write the total brief for Parliament House, because the first two – volume competition brief was a magnificent document. The rest of the brief for the design and construction of the building was a 24-volume brief. [Laughter] That's right. We still have a copy of those 24 volumes as does the Parliament.

That didn't happen over a quick come on, get it done, get it tendered process. It happened over years and years and years of fundamental thought by very intelligent and very dedicated people. It goes back to those ideas that there is a chance to do something good, again, like your 70 years of moments, when people are determined to have a modest, fundamental process of working hard in the service of essential ideas, in terms of where they go in their future.

Tony Powell: Okay. Well I'll just close the circle on that discussion to tell you what was in my head at the time. That is for more than 15 years the NCDC had not managed to make any progress in getting a Parliament House sited or built.

I said to my staff very early in the piece the reason why the Commission hasn't done that is because what they didn't recognise, although, as a Commission, we were a bunch of engineers, architects, landscape designers, constructors – and so the focus had always been on all of those aspects in using that kind of language and not getting anywhere was because the essential problem was a political problem.

So I said to my staff we have to rework all of that information so that the first thing we do, we resist any temptation on the part of the joint planning committee to show them what a piece of architecture would look like. What we would do is go to them and say we will help you identify your needs. We did that in extensive detail, which was the basis of the brief.

The other thing was that we convinced them that in their presentation to their electorates in support of this project, they would be given the ammunition to say this is what a Parliament needs. We will not be able to do our job for ourselves and for you if we don’t have a building that works. So, ultimately, it was that underlying political thrust which is what we were able to make work and which the architects brilliantly, in their work, sort of absorbed that aspect, the political aspect of the project. Then it was done.

So my second question is that in relation to the 70-year journey, having built this building, does the panel feel that Griffin's aspirations have been fully realised, or is there more work to do to complete the development of Canberra's central national area? Aldo?

Aldo Giurgola: I certainly cannot think of the Parliament House without Canberra. Canberra is the beginning of that. It certainly presented to me this notion of simplicity, order, relation with the natural environment. In other words I don't think that you can handle it like you handle money...I mean it's much more delicate kind of stuff that is related to the human life.

By the way, I also very much endorse this principle of planning very much, that planning is for the health of people and the wellbeing of people before anything else. It's just a principle; where you start. Canberra has been growing with this kind of principle all the time, in my view.

All of a sudden we had a changeing of vibrancy is the word that always...around by lots of people. Is vibrancy copying something that happened in Texas or somewhere else, the kind of process of planning that is ad hoc, for instance, in every circumstance? We work in planning. I worked for 10 years in Philadelphia with planning, with the Planning Office; more than 10 years. I worked for three years in Sweden, in Gothenburg and I presented solutions to them.

The important thing is to have an understanding that you have to, before having a conversation with the public that never ends and you reach no solution, you have to demonstrate exactly what you mean; like you did with your brief and so on. It has to be very precise, this introduction of a new thing to the public, otherwise nobody can make any sense [unclear]. What everybody does is a personal reaction to their condition, to their interest. That is not an intelligent discussion. In fact, we found out in this meeting people go away and say they didn't understand what they say, so we do whatever we can do.

But [unclear] the process of planning is a very serious one that requires initiation. It requires also a process that is lengthy, with a physical demonstration with a model and quantities and so on to the public. In that moment you make any contact, because in that moment...they will understand what that is.

I don’t know if that covered your question, but I get involved in that because I feel that we reach a critical point in this place, and we assert the basic notion, like tradition that keeps an urban entity alive, really alive. Is precisely this lengthy process on demonstration what an intelligent approach and a knowledgeable approach can be servicing well the community.

Tony Powell: You haven’t quite answered my question, but I'm going to give Pam and Hal a chance to make good. If not, then I'll readdress it. [Laughter]

Aldo Giurgola: Okay, all right.

Pamille Berg: Go ahead, Hal.

Hal Guida: Several things strike my mind, Tony. Griffin talked about the fact that this city that was being designed could be seen from above, from the high points; from Mount Ainslie, from Mount Pleasant and others. Therefore, to have the sense of meaning that he thought that the city should have, it should be composed well and it shouldn't be ad hoc, Aldo's term. It really should be composed well. I'm not convinced that ongoing planning has been taking that sense of urban design and landscape that [laughter and applause]...

Tony Powell: Now you're getting close to it.

Hal Guida: The second thing that occurs to me is during all the years that we worked with you quite directly, your staff was preparing report after report after report on the central national area. There were little variants each time of how to build the terraces and how to get more and more buildings in and so forth. They never were successful. They were never endorsed. Part of the problem was that there wasn't a sense of perceived or actual need that is a brief for all of that, for all of those buildings.

So a kind of default position has been taken of making it defined by landscape, which I'm not opposed to, I don’t have an opposition to. Again, it feels like it is ad hoc. The lake front was done. Then a competition was held for one memorial piece; then another one. Then we had the unbelievable condition of two competitors arguing about certain relationship of each other's winning designs, and had been appointed within six months of each other, because the briefs weren’t right. The briefs didn't get the essence of how these two would be related.

It seems to me there's an opportunity or a need to come back to the needs of the central area. What is legitimate? What can be justified? What can we envisage over the next couple of generations? Then make a plan that accepts whatever limitations we believe are appropriate. Then we do a design. I mean the central national area could be, I think, a fabulous park with all the right things that support human activity of differentiation.

At the moment it's some [unclear] trees, then there's an event over here by the library, and there's something over here on that side. It's all scattered individual pieces. It doesn’t work like a beautiful park, which is defined by some open spaces, some closed spaces, some water spaces, some other spaces that allowed the public to use it as per their choices, and provide the kind of richness of experience that also supports the buildings and the activities that are there.

So my sense of the undone part of Griffin's plan is (1) not having a planning organisation that is thinking about the rational visual order of the city. Secondly, I do think the central national area needs to be designed.

Aldo Giurgola: Yes. Can I add something to that?

Tony Powell: Yes, only a little bit, because Pam's got to have a go. [Laughter]

Aldo Giurgola: No, it's the notion for instance, one time we had the notion of urban design. Our urban design became a bad word because, of course, the developer doesn’t like this notion that preludes certain things. Urban design was very good one time...when you design a street, for instance, where everything was comprehended into view. Obviously, you can have an urban design of our time. You can learn from the past. I'm sure about that. That is always the case. But in other circumstances if you have the notion of designing the city you are in a different area of activity, which really would help because then they will find an order for everything that comes in.

Pamille Berg: I think, going on from that, the thing that each of us has said about have we completed the vision over the 70 years of each of these high moments of individual's sense of vision, sense of being able to see beyond, being able to see the all, and particularly Griffin.

I think everything that's been said before suggests that if we want to express who we in fact are as a people and as many, many diverse individuals and as a nation and want to continue to explore that many different layers of who we are, it seems to me that the planning of Canberra has to be about vision. The leadership of that design, urban and other and planning, has to be about entrenching vision within the institutions.

I think that the way in which most of our planning bodies have been formed and funded and commented on is not one about entrenching people of vision in the midst of those organisations and allowing them to lead and consult and consolidate and lead and consult, but rather having to be quite a timid and reactive process.

It seems to me that the miracle that happened that allowed Parliament House to happen was that – for all the reasons that Tony brought up and many more – we were able to say this must be an excellent place and an excellent thing. Excellence is actually a very good word, an important word, when it's understood not as privilege, but rather as something which is fundamental.

Aldo and Hal and everyone else made the decision that that wasn't going to be a place that had a big fat architectural thumbprint on it saying this is Giurgola or Guida or the other 120 architects. Instead there was a conscious sense in the planning of everything about the architecture that we would hold ourselves back and that we would find the way in which Australian artists, craftspeople, designers, fine makers, whether they were good stone masons or whether they were superb joiners. Those were the quiet but inexorable language that spoke to you when you were in that building. So that when each of you go there again and again, taking a guess, and you walk up and you touch the solid timber edged strip to a panel, and when you see and hear a guide talking about the fact that for the first time in that building we were using native timbers that were not rain forest species or imported, but the building was treated as if it was an opportunity, not just to get a Parliament building for the members, but it was treated as an opportunity where we said, here's a billion dollars, 1.3 billion at the time. By the way, we didn't bankrupt ourselves spending that money on that building, did we? [Laughter] That money was spent not just to get a building, but then to do 10, 20, 30 other essential things that were about us talking about who we were. It allowed us to have the work of our Australian artists, craftspeople, designers there, embodied, taking up all sorts of things that weren’t about a painting or a sculpture stuck somewhere. Rather, Hal worked intensely for years with Aldo to put 130 different new furniture items into production in Australia by Australian joiners and furniture makers who otherwise had never had the opportunity to manufacture high-quality furniture and take that beyond. New stone quarries were opened to cut stone and use stone in ways that previously had never happened in Australia. If you wanted stone of that quality you got it in from the outside.

Aldo Giurgola: The artist.

Pamille Berg: Well, the whole point about the art program was, and this is, to me, the point about the triangle, about the making of Canberra. We were allowed, sometimes with subterfuge and a great deal of quietness, and just trying to work as fast as we could before somebody figured it out and stopped it. Nevertheless, we were allowed, within that project, to say we have an amazing capacity of artists, designer makers in this country who are sitting quietly waiting for all of us to use the tremendous creative making that they have.

So it was essential that that was a building that wasn't devoid of Australian art/craft design. It was essential as a model that it was a building that showed what we can do when we decide to do it as a nation.

Hal Guida: [And a range of pages].

Pamille Berg: Yes, the majority of the artists and craftspeople, Hal is reminding me to say, who we engaged had never had a public commission before. They weren’t the names put up by the galleries. They were the people who we found, slowly, by going from art school to art school and sleeping on workshop floors, as I did, for two years; going around the country saying who are the people who can do timber marquetry in this country, phenomenal capacity. It wasn't being done in the midst of architecture; other things like that.

So if we go back to Tony's question and say what does that have to do with the 70 years and the completion of the Burley Griffin vision, to me what it has to do is the fact that we have, as a group of people, the capacity to say let's do things as we ought to do them. Let's take each piece of the making of the city and let's make that piece of the city properly, correctly, with quality, with excellence and with our cultural making in the midst of it.

Hal Guida: Yes, I think what's interesting about this, what Pam has just brought up, is that there was no brief for artwork in the Parliament. We had a brief for a building. Then after we got started, and we were here on the ground and we were working on that, it was recognised that the furniture was going to be an integral part. So we got a brief for furniture.

Aldo recognised, in particular, the significance and importance of having artwork as part of the significant expression of the country and of the work of a democracy. Aldo wrote a draft paper, worked with Pam to write another paper, which became a brief that we, as a design team with a set of values and concerns, gave back to the Parliament; said we think you need to support this brief.

The Parliament read it and assessed it and met and agreed to that. In a way, what we need to do as a community here about the things that concern us in the parliamentary triangle, for instance, or elsewhere in the city, is to somehow establish briefs for presentation to the planners, to the government, to ourselves, in a way, that says these are the things that are important to us.

These are the things that have to be thought about and put into a next level of work by the appropriate people to carry that work out; rather than just writing letters to the editor, individually sitting at home, or whatever. Somehow people need to be able to say this is an important idea. There is consensus around this idea that can be consolidated. Therefore it can be formed to some kind of a brief, if that's the right word, that suggested that there is the potential of vision for the development of the parliamentary area.

Tony Powell: Well, there's just one very important ingredient that they are too polite to tell you about; and that is the reason why the central national area has not progressed, much less been completed, is because of the conservatism of you and people like you. Let me illustrate the point. [Laughter]

When the Parliament House was getting to its closing stages the commission produced a submission to the joint parliamentary committee in which we said, basically, this whole scheme, Griffin, Giurgola, da da da da da, is essentially a baroque design. Therefore, what we, the commission, think should be done is we should remove the provisional Parliament House because it's blocking the whole axial composition from the Parliament building to Mount Ainslie and the War Memorial, and therefore you are not getting the sense of drama, the sense of extension, the expanse of space that does legitimacy to the Parliament building and the rest of the whole Griffinesque, if you like, competition.

When we were knocked back on that we then went back and said what if we remove all the accretions to the provisional building so you get back to the original charming design with the gardens on either side and a relatively modest ziggurat-type roof on it. At least it allows part of the corridor, the visual corridor, to be opened up, and people will get a much better appreciation of the Parliament House.

Now, there is no way in God's world that anybody standing on the lake shore, looking back towards the new Parliament building can see it, can understand what it is, as a piece of architecture, or as a sense of space. Now, the members of Parliament didn't want to do that because they thought there was some sort of sacredness about the provisional Parliament House, although they had no illustrious history in it. It was just a junky building. [Laughter]

Then whenever, since then, anybody wants to do anything in Canberra of any kind of magnitude, there's a whole group of people, like you, who stand up and say let's not touch the top of Capital Hill. Let's not do this or do that. So until those attitudes are changed, until people like you and us have an urge to accept change and be confident enough to accept change, that we are only in progress, then the whole thing will just sit there long after I'm dead, and probably long after all of you are dead as well.

Okay. [Laughter] That's the end of that discussion. Now we've got 20 minutes. Who would like to ask the first question? They're very careful because I won't pick them if they don’t get it right. [Laughter] Okay. Stand up and speak up. There's a microphone.

Audience member:  Thanks very much. I've actually got two questions.

Tony Powell: No, no. You can have one. [Laughter]

Audience member: I've got one question in two parts. [Laughter] The first is did you expect the project, the new building, to change the way that government operates in Australia, and do you think it has done that?

The second part is how might you have approached the project differently in the age of terror, and do you think that things that you did in designing the project might have been tackled differently after 911, and how has the building coped with that whole post-911 experience?

Tony Powell: I don’t like the second part of the question, but answer the first. [Laughter]

Aldo Giurgola: Well, the first question [unclear] because I didn't hear very well.

Tony Powell: The question, basically, is to what extent do you think the new Parliament House has changed the behaviour of the parliamentarians and the processes that go on inside it?

Aldo Giurgola: I think, to a certain extent, it did. Always to a certain extent, but certainly life there is much better. I always found that people have stopped me and say oh, what a wonderful thing this is. We have a window in every office and we can walk from one place to another. We can exercise. It's a very good place to work [unclear], so in general that's...

Also, let's not forget that in life you should have pleasure. Architecture is done also for giving pleasure. Even in the Parliament House there is a sense of pleasure; even in that kind of building.

Tony Powell: You're really stretching our imaginations now. [Laughter] Hal, Pam, what do you reckon?

Hal Guida: I'm going to go to the second part of your question, the hard one that Tony doesn't like. I don't think we'd do anything different. [Applause] I think we have a sense that humans need to be treated decently and that we are all of good will. Yes, there will be an abhorrent moment, but we shouldn't be planning for those conditions.

We've made some adjustments to the building, a precinct to try to make sure that the central character of openness remains. So I don’t think we would approach it differently.

Pamille Berg: I think it's fair to say that the work that you've quietly done in reference, Aldo, with the Parliament since 911 and before, dealing with security, it wasn't as if the whole planning of the Parliament didn't have any security concerns from the very beginning. There were actually very detailed briefs about security. It was that a huge amount of work went into maintaining the openness and the honesty, and those arms that reach out and say yes, come into this forecourt and come into the building, from the very beginning.

I think also the fact that you said I don’t think we would do it differently is that part of the stand that we all have to take in this time is to still say who we are and what we believe we must be, while at the same time recognising that the world is a complicated place. So one of the things that Tony, I think, is alluding to about the 70 years, the completion of the triangle, is its symbolism and the symbolism of the building as an open place and as a place of many diverse equals. I think if we lose that, then we've lost something very fundamental about how we describe ourselves at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st.

There's just one other thing about that that I think you bring up, about would we do things differently now. I think the Griffins, if Walter and Marion were here today, I don’t think they sounded like very easy people to talk to because I think they would have kept poking us in the ribs about things. I don't think they would have sat and been nice. I think one of the things that they would have brought up about this question of designing in our time and the triangle in relation to the city as a whole, going back to your idea of view and Aldo and everyone else looking at the design of the Parliament in relation to the city, their words suggest that the ideal city wasn't just an ideal aesthetic city, but the ideal city, including its national area and what's beyond, was also about what a good place to live was.

If we put aside for the moment the argy bargy about the pace of climate change or whether it exists, and instead use the words in front of ourselves of saying how much is our fair share, as Australians, and particularly as Canberrans, of the resources that are needed to support each of our lives.

We know lately, from researchers in all sorts of fields and the sorts of things that have been presented by a number of people in Canberra in recent months, and in the paper, that each of us, as Canberrans, occupies, uses, about 75 per cent more of our share of the world's resources than we should to support our daily lives; our eating and our living and our so forth, than if we were keeping our fair share in relation to everybody else in the world.

I expect that part of the answer to Tony's question, which is the really important one, is that we would get much more passionate about and sensible about the leadership of the idea of what it means to complete the central national area as a symbolic heart for the nation. In relation to density, quality of life and planning of the rest of the city, if we started saying well, one way or another, none of us wants more than our fair share of what we ought to have. We don't want to take half the pavlova just because we managed to get to the table before everyone else was still on the veranda.

If that's what it's about, in terms of fair share, it seems to me that that is the thing that would give a real potency to this question of how do we complete the design of the city in the way that the Griffins would have sat here and poked us in the ribs; because they would have said this is an ideal city for how we must live. I think that starts changing the way we think about that.

Aldo Giurgola: With a sense of measure.

Pamille Berg: Yes, measure for our time; measure for what you, Aldo Giurgola, deserve in the world, as well as everyone else who's present, rather than in a hierarchical way.

Tony Powell: Yes, madam?

Audience member: My question is about your relationship with Australia, not the building. Is that an allowable question? The question is it's my understanding that you've all three become citizens of Australia, and I'm curious how your careers in architecture have brought you to become Australians, like I have.

Pamille Berg: Why did you stay, Aldo? Why did you stay here? Why didn't you go back to New York?

Tony Powell: Or Rome?

Aldo Giurgola: Frankly, I did more in '88, when it was the moment of closing. I had my soul searching, yes. There are certain personal circumstances that made me gravitate here. On the other hand, I lived for 30 years between New York and Philadelphia. I was saturated by the contest frankly.

I think I thought that life could be much more interesting here, and it was. I enjoyed it very much, especially because I had lots of time by myself and nothing to do. [Laughter]

Look, Canberra is a unique place in the world. I mean there is no other city like it. You can say a city of 400,000 people, you know, is very rare. You don’t find it. You find it in a little village, maybe, that has a certain similitude. Canberra is an exception from this stand point...and that really doesn’t create a lot of amenity...parliamentarians, for instance, come here for a short while and they go back. So we have always had this problem with people. They don't know Canberra really.

I think it is an exceptional thing, and actually is a way that we have to learn to plan because one of the very important things is the limiter. Pam mentioned a sense of measure on this thing...to find the boundaries to things. Everything has a boundary. It could be a reality. If it is a dream it goes away in a different direction all the time. If you are dealing with the reality you always find the limit. Because otherwise you go out of control.

In fact, if Canberra goes above 600,000 people it loses control completely...it's been proved in every city in the world that this happened. They lose their control. The state has to come in and start to do things that they wanted to do. Even in New York this happened; in a city of 9 million people. The state comes in and does whatever they like. There is a planning office there, a very important one, that is completely hopeless because the state comes in and decides what to do for the city.

You have here, instead a potential to find this sense of measure of thing. This has been found, and that is one of the things of Griffin that we have admiration for this sense of measure between the nature and the settlement, no?

Then you study the task that we have, the original plan. That's the important step that we have to do, because we have to involve the growth of the population into the original sector and we have the ideal conditions here, between Canberra, Goulburn and Wagga, to think of that land, what it will become, in terms of development, in terms of housing, potential for work and so on. You need an infrastructure for that.

I think that that's the future really; not to sprawl this city to no end, ad hoc. Ad hoc is only a monetary interest, you know that. You are smart enough to take advantage of a certain situation, and you want to. So you end up with people that do planning that is for their interest, you know, a period and stop there. That planning is a public thing. Planning is a public interest. So you have, really, to think on those terms, otherwise you'd never have planning. Sorry. Sorry, I get emotional. [Laughter]

Pamille Berg: Why did you stay?

Tony Powell: Yes, why did you stay?

Hal Guida: I'll give you the real simple answer. I was supposed to come for three years and then go back to the Philadelphia office. It stretched out and stretched out and so forth, for all the right reasons. I had two children. We were told, at about year four, by friends who were in Foreign Affairs, both American and Australian, that if you stay in a place more than six years you'll never leave. [Laughter] So, sure enough, eight years later [Laughter] it seemed the right thing.

I just want to add, and this is an aside really, I spend a week a month in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, somewhere. I've been doing that for almost 20 years. Nothing feels better than flying into Canberra. It just feels so good to get home. It's not just home because that's where you live, but because it is Canberra, as Aldo said. It is a wonderful place to live.

All those vibrant cities are fabulous. I've lived in the middle of the city in America. I mean no car or nothing, real city boy, but it really is wonderful to get back here at the end of each week, every month.

Pamille Berg: I stayed because I think this is a country in which we can do things. To me, and all of us felt that way, we realise that there is still, even now with the complexity we have, there is an openness here and a degree of intellectual complexity and interest. I think it's wonderful that Aldo said this place was more interesting than New York City.

I think that what we have here is still the capacity, even in the midst of runaway housing prices and all sorts of things that are cutting a lot of possibility off for a lot of people, even in the midst of that I still think we have what attracted me when I came here, which was the ability for people to lead simple lives, good lives, lives that are full of interest and diversity and principle and warmth, and to be able to do that without having to be only in the top 5 per cent of the economic strata.

I really hope that we continue that because it's something which, when you compare it with the rest of the world, we still haven’t totally screwed that up yet, and we have the capacity to keep it. [Applause]

Tony Powell: Just before I get the next question, I just want to draw out something that you've inferred, all of you, but you haven’t actually spelled it out. I'll put it in this way: all of you who are Griffin aficionados are in danger of taking refuge in Griffin; whereas the city we live in is the city of the NCDC. Three-quarters of this city was planned, designed and developed by the NCDC. The reaction that we're all having, say, from territory government is they're trying to obliterate all of the principles, philosophy and achievements of the NCDC to replace it with territory government.

The three of you have given a very good explanation as to how you have responded and benefited from and enjoyed the city of the NCDC.

Anyway. No, no, not on that side. I've got to get someone from in here.

Pamille Berg: She's got the mike. [Laughter]

Audience member: One question in three very small parts, which follows on nicely from that. Given the significance of Parliament House and the Griffin legacy, why is it not heritage listed? Do you think it should be to protect it from death from a thousand cuts and, if so, how can we bring that about?

Audience member: Go on, Pam, you answer this. I can see you're busting to.

Pamille Berg: Well I'll start and then we'll go ahead. One of the undone things at the moment in this sequence is the fact that while we're all still blessed with the fact that Aldo's sitting next to us at the age of 90, and obviously the mind is working well and the body is still holding up. We have conversations regularly in which Aldo says well, at the moment, and we all know this, because of the Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act 2000 in Australia, Aldo has moral rights over the destruction of the design integrity of Parliament House.

There is a process, somewhat flawed and always frustrating and slightly agonising, but there is a process by which proposals for change in the Parliament, whether it's the dismemberment of the Speaker's chair to put in new internal bits, or whether it's something as big as creating a children's crèche in the curved wall courtyard, or whether it's changes to the House Chamber, those things have to be assessed about whether they are in keeping with the integrity of the design of the building for the next 200 years or whether they violate that.

Now, the only reason that assessment process is mandated is because Aldo is still alive and has moral rights. Unless someone knows a loophole I don't know, moral rights are extinguished with the death of the person who holds them.

So one of the great fears that we have – the AIA is talking about it, people who work within Parliament House are talking about it, is what happens when Aldo dies and when no longer he is here to exercise his moral rights and, as he has just done this weekend, write a letter to the Speaker, which will go next week, about something that he feels very strongly which is about to happen to the building that escaped that process.

So I think the whole question of heritage listing of the building as a solution is also a vexed one. It's a very complicated one because this isn't just a ceremonial building like a war memorial, even though it has educative functions. This is a working building and a working place, and it does messy, difficult things and it has to change all the time for the next 200 years or more of its life.

So the whole notion of whether a heritage listing is the right solution for the preservation of what you have all invested in Parliament House and the central national area, nevertheless I think your question is critical because very soon, hopefully not very soon; maybe another 10 years, given the nick he's in, but relatively soon this is going to have to be addressed.

If we miss the opportunity we're going to do what the US Government has done with the White House over the last 50 years, where they have spent $50 million buying back the individual pieces of furniture which were designed for the White House to recreate the integrity of its rooms. How insane will we do that in the midst of a structure which has been torn up into a series of – [unclear] you really should speak to that before Aldo does as well, Hal.

Hal Guida: I think what's really required is a serious undertaking of a process that recognises that change must take place, but it needs to be done in a measured and controlled way. We, through Pam, have been engaged, many years ago now, to write a document, another one of these, that sets out the background to the design of virtually every significant space in the building, so that people can understand why we did what we did, so that when they have to make change they make it in the spirit of understanding what are the critical intentions.

That needs to become more commonplace and used more often, we think, at the Parliament, as the significant way in which change is accommodated.

Tony Powell: If you don't want to add to that, there's a lady out there whose arm is going to fall off [laughter] so she can have a go.

Audience member: I'd just like to ask why is there a conspicuous absence of any discussion or promotion within the trade, that is, within the architectural industry, of any type of alternative transport to be promoted in Canberra. In light of that, is it possible, in the future, that the men and women of learning might promote some sort of discussion about alternative public transport other than road transport within the confines the boundary of the ACT?

Hal Guida: I think the reason comes back to something that Tony threw out at us: we're all too complacent. We've been told that it's not economical, it's too hard to figure out how to get it from Gungahlin into the city, and we've all said mm, okay, I guess that's it.

There certainly are arguments for alternative systems in Griffin's writings and plans at the time of the competition. He saw multiple modes of transportation in the city, including rail. He talked about how the streets could be configured to accommodate rail. He planned a city with large major roads which were about circulation, which were not about residential environments. He distinguished between what was circulation, the movements of things and how they could accommodate various modes, and where you lived and where you worked.

So our broad avenues, big connectors are all adequately sized, I think, if you look at them, for multiple modes of transportation. Every time it comes up we get a report in the paper that says oh, it's not financially feasible, we can't do it. Recognising, on the other hand, I mean we should recognise on the other hand that every city in which trains, I'll use that as an example of alternative transport, of public transportation has been implemented, has been paid for by the government. It's never economical.

The government knows that it's necessary, whether it's the BART system in San Francisco 30 years ago, or the extension of the North West line in Singapore in the past two years, it's something that has to be done. It breaks down that sense of privilege that Pam was talking about before and helps the whole society, serves us all by having alternative systems. So we have to be more vocal.

Aldo Giurgola: There's another factor that is very important, I think, in the planning of Canberra – this institution of a different centre, a different core separated by green space. This is a very important aspect of the plan. It's not just a garden city because there is always a philosophy that a certain amount of settlement, human settlement, should be interrupted to have proper ventilation between the various parts.

Having the green in between, as it is now, the difference between Belconnen and central city or Woden and so on is really... now we have this dangerous voice going around that we are to increase in density. Already architects, I would say, are starting to talk of occupying the green space in between. I think this is a very essential aspect of the planning of Canberra, just as important as the one of Burley Griffin.

The need for public transportation is a reality, really, that has to be approached, in my opinion, because there is no other way to beat the production of car than having public transport.

Pamille Berg: I think, ultimately, just in keeping with what Aldo's saying, where it's a complexity of not just infill, but of saying how does it work as a whole ecology with public transport.

I think the thing that all of us, one way or another, are going to have to start talking to ourselves and among ourselves about, very intensely and with a great deal of care and consideration, is the fact that if we are really going to start thinking about our individual fair share, and if each of us has to reduce our fair share footprint by 75 per cent to be only using our fair share rather than somebody else's share as well, what that means is that we're going to have to change completely our thoughts about what portions of our income go where.

I think we're going to have to pay higher taxes, because I don’t think that it works to have huge issues facing us like public transport, like energy et cetera, and pretend that we can continue to live our 19th, 20th century lives where everything is possible because we can buy it.

So I think that the really fundamental discussion is one where Pam Berg has to pay twice as many taxes to subsidise the public transport that we need. I'm going to have to pay three times of my income for energy costs to deal with my dwelling, or I'm going to have to go off the grid and fund that by myself. We are going to have to have that discussion.

As a city it is essential that we have visionary people leading that discussion so that we don’t lose the city's symbolism for the country as a whole, but at the same time we say to ourselves let's do what we did when we built the building, which is to say it needs to be a model project. Well, why shouldn't we lead the model discussion of figuring out how we're going to turn Canberra into a fair share place, even if we can't think beyond that?

Tony Powell: Well, as Kerry O'Brien would say, I'm sorry, but we're out of time. [Laughter] I just have one last question: do you feel that I have prospects as a moderator? [Laughter, applause]

Zöe D'Arcy: I'd like to say very quickly, in conclusion, that I am actually very honoured that all three of you decided to stay in this country. I think everybody will agree that it's been an absolute privilege having you this afternoon. [Applause] Tony, you're a fabulous moderator. [Laughter]

Now, I'd encourage everybody, if you haven’t already, to go and have a look at the drawings that we have outside on display. I should remind you that Aldo's drawings there were actually competition drawings. So what you're looking at is his concepts and plans. It's quite amazing, looking at them now, you just think oh yes, that's what's there – but, of course, this is what has sprung out of Aldo's imagination, and you should look at them in that context.

So thank you very much for coming along. I hope you really enjoyed it; a very stimulating discussion. Thank you.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017