ethics, democracy, difference:
BAU470 Towards a Socially Sustainable Canberra

Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia





Urban design


Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia




Open competition


ACT Government


Hypothetical design for Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia

ethics, democracy, difference: towards a socially sustainable Canberra: CAPIThetical: A design ideas competition for a hypothetical Australian capital city.

We wish to test whether the unfinished economic, political, and cultural visions of the Griffin’s design for Canberra can be actualised. At the same time, we want to explore whether Canberra can move beyond its early 20th Century urban design propositions, and its late 20th Century shortcomings towards a city addressing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

Inherent in our design proposition is an increase in the population and density of Canberra caused by:
climate change: Global temperatures increase by 5 degrees and sea levels rising, flooding many of Australia’s coastal cities.
sub-urbanity: The construction of a high-speed railway line down Australia’s east coast; from Brisbane to Melbourne. Suddenly, Canberra is within a 45 minute train ride from Sydney’s downtown.
hyper-connectivity: Advances in technology particularly those in communication sees more people working from home and the reduction of needing to commute.

study area

We have focused on the area within, and that just outside the triangular area contained by the three nodes nominated by the Griffin’s as: Equity; Liberty; and Fraternity. We have called this area The Social Triangle – a place where the three relatively autonomous strands of society (economics, politics and culture) fold and un-fold.

The Social Triangle is dominated by Capital Hill, part of Lake Burley Griffin and the Parliamentary Triangle, the area between the Liberty Node and the Lake Burley Griffin and the site of Australia’s major institutions from the High Court of Australia to the National Gallery.

potential beyond and within our Social Triangle

Liberty node

We believe the Liberty node, with Romaldo Giurgola’s masterpiece on the hill, is complete. Despite a seemingly unworkable minority government at the moment, Australia’s parliamentary democratic system is not broken. However, the emphasis does need to move from the work of talk to the activity of implementation- a genuine liberal democracy.
Equity node

The Equity node has an empty negative centre and its surrounds are only partially complete. Our response to it is two-fold. Firstly, we propose a new public institution for the 21st Century – an institute that reconciles the Griffins virtual but not actualized Ethics, with the actual and somewhat tactless commercial activity. The Institute for the Development of Ethics in an Age of Self-interest (IDEAS) objectives are to stimulate research, discussion and implementation of economic, political, and cultural models based on well-informed ethical positions. This institute will redress the single-minded view of economics-as-commerce inherent in Civic, while also sitting as a constant reminder to parliament of one of the 21st Century’s major ethical issues – poverty.

Our second initiative is to create a real urbanism within the Civic area with positive public spaces (streets, plazas and gardens), active street edges, and a diversity of programs.

Fraternity node

The Fraternity node also has an empty centre. If the Liberty node contains the centre of Australian political life, and the Equity node contains an ethical economic focus then we believe culture should occupy this Fraternity node.

Our response in this area is also two-fold. Firstly, we propose the second of two new institutions of the 21st Century – an institute that reconciles the unrealised Fraternity of the Griffins, with the open space and the limited view of what constitutes culture in a democratic society. The All of Us are Stardust Institute’s (AUSI) objectives are to stimulate research, discussion, and implementation of economic, political, and cultural models based on well informed cultural concepts and theories o f difference and repetition.

Our second initiative is to provide a framework for cultural fraternity – one of inclusion of, and support for, difference. A new non-hierarchical, non-periodic geometry is used as the framework for 204 tiles (the current number of Sovereign States in the world.). Laid over these tiles is a woven network of the seven continents of the world. This exercise is not about land owned by individuals, but about territory that accommodates communities.

inside The Social Triangle

A new waterscape of equitable-economics (Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) initiatives such as organic aquaculture and fish farming collectives); cultural-fellowship (jetties and pavilions representing the seven continents’ water culture); and political-liberty (jetties, floating amphitheatres and soap boxes) now inhabits Lake Burley Griffin. Of course the Land Axis is given the respect expected of a link between the Australian War Memorial and the Australian Parliament House – a visual, physical and symbolic link between those who have died at war and those living in peace.

walkable and sustainable communities

The area to the north and adjacent to the Fraternity node contains the typical Canberra suburban cell of Campbell. We propose to turn Canberra’s car oriented suburbs into walkable, programmatically diverse, and socially sustainable suburbs via four simple networked strategies: 1.) the introduction of walkable and legible local transport areas (LTA’s); 2.) the introduction of a public transport system in the centre of each of the local transport areas; 3.) the introduction of changes to land-use zoning and urban design guidelines to encourage the development of other city programs around the perimeter and centre of each these LTAs; and finally 4.) the introduction of a continuous green network through the suburbs that links existing isolated green spaces.

Canberra’s future growth

We have also assumed, that due to one or more of our initial pre-design scenarios emerging, pressure will grow for Canberra to expand beyond its current metropolitan area in the future.

We have proposed an alternative form of urban growth – one based on the co-existence of urban, urban-rural and rural areas folded into a symbiotic co-existence. In the urban capable region of Symonston Valley, south of the Fraternity node, the first of Australia’s Symbiotic Cities has been developed.

Symbiotic City is based on the a series of meta-networks – simple bands of urban development never wider than 1.6kms, alternate and intersect with bands of rural area never narrower than 1.6kms. Symbiotic City is itself networked with the very same networks that have been pushed through the existing Canberra suburbs.


We believe Canberra can fully realise the potential of the Griffin’s early 20th Century vision and be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

Private Landscapes






Public Landscapes



Structures & Pavillions











Urban Design








Mixed Use









































an excessive minimalism:
BAU478-A U-Park Incubator, Shang Qing Huai, Nanjing

more Piazza Navona than Levittown
BAU618 Tianyou Experimental Primary School and Kindergarten, Suzhou

clarity and unpredictable adjacencies:
BAU119 Jinqiao Sports & Leisure Centre

landscape, urbanity, networks, the suitcase, and the paper-bag:
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more than a frozen moment:
BAU659 ZOOM OASIS, Linkong Perimeter Super Block

look! up in the sky!
BAU210 Shanghai Hongxuan Office Building

Made in China, no question – Invented in China, of course:
BAU588 You-Du R+D Development, Jinqiao, Shanghai

a hybrid infrastructure:
BAU679 Yuandang Bridge

large plains, small grains, and the in-between:
BAU686 Longgang Arts Centre, Shenzhen

on reflection:
BAU674 Qingpu Performing Arts Centre

Place, typologies, programs, and public life:

more than just a technopolis:
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a second network embracing history, smalllness, and complexity:
BAU193 Chengdu West New District

a park for everyone and everyone in their park:
BAU189 Hongqiao Park

disorder – not randonmness but beyond order:
BAU182 Chengdu East Village

mosaics of teaching, networks of learning:
BAU149 Huai’an Tertiary Education District

walled cities within a walled city:
BAU147 Xi’an High-Tech Precinct CBD

co-existence without incompatibility:
BAU138 Jiangxi Xinyu Networks City

space-time conflict:
BAU544 Shanghai University Campus

clarity and unpredictable adjacencies:
BAU119 Jinqiao Sports & Leisure Centre

Journeys AND destination, not just destinations:
BAU569 Nanjing Youfu West Street Primary School

continuous loops and internal courts:
BAU603 Suzhou kindergarten no. 3

weaving and stitching:
BAU616 Jiangyin Greenway Loop (stage 1. Eastern Segment)

a constructed and cultured topography:
BAU269 Jindi Green Land Club

it takes a village to educate a child:
BAU602 Suzhou Sci-tech City Xizhu Kindergarten

city typologies, cultural traditions, contemporary theories, and spaceships:
BAU600 Shanghai Qingpu Newtown 30-class Primary School

artificial plateau:building more site:
BAU599 Shanghai Qingpu Newtown 24-Class Junior High school

it is the least we could do: minimalism in an environment of expressionism
BAU584 Hangzhou Tonglu Office Building

more Piazza Navona than Levittown
BAU618 Tianyou Experimental Primary School and Kindergarten, Suzhou

classrooms AND the in-between: teaching and learning beyond the classroom
BAU610 Taizhou School

other institutions for this new century:
BAU604 Qingpu District People’s Court

building the unfinished:
BAU003M The Victorian Pride Centre

minimal AND maximal:
BAU583 Exhibition Pavilion Gaochun, Nanjing

small in scale large in monumentality:
BAU027 Wyndham Mausoleum

multiple rooms of difference:
BAU253 Shanghai Qingpu Renheng Yunjie Entrance Garden

active cultural edges, passive natural centres:
BAU402 Shanghai Qingpu Qin Yuan Lake Park

intimate, cool, sheltered and lively:
BAU268 Xinqiao Commercial Street + Shop Housing

formal teaching and informal learning:
BAU540 Gaochun New District Kindergaten to Year Nine School

an exercise in robustness:
BAU333 Jiangyin Huifu Office Tower

effortless complexity: learning from water-town:
BAU222-2 Shanghai Qingpu Zhujiajiao Commercial

no longer but not only:
BAU213-3 Jindi Yunhu Market

actualizing the virtual:
BAU 213-2 Jindi Yunhu Sports and Activity Center

geometry, history, art, craft, iconography, and pragmatics: an exploration of intention, coding, narrative, and meaning
BAU021 Olinda Green + Public WC

there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in:
BAU015 Jan Juc House, Victoria, Australia

BAU009 house in the sky

surreal adjacencies:
BAU019 Marymount Residence, Guest Accommodation, Stable + Office

mini-city of culture:
BAU590 Nanjing Pukou Haiqiao Community Service Center

keeping a low profile:
BAU 214 Suzhou Qingshan Hotel Phase I

positive space, human scale, and a blue-green net:
BAU213-1 Jindi Yunhu Housing

dis-integrated guest houses :
BAU495 Pine Pillow Retreat

don’t look at me, don’t look at me:
BAU436 Nanjing Jiangning Demonstration Kindergarten

new buildings, old topography:
BAU424 Suzhou Qingshan Hotel Phase 2

defining the perimeter, programming the centre, inhabiting them both:
BAU238 Town Plaza, Xinqiao, Jiangyin

turning outside-in:
BAU199-2 Wuxi Fudi Forte Parktown Sales Pavilion

beyond PODS, networks, and nodes:
BAU552 Chengbei Urban Design project, Nanjing

podium and bill(ding)board:
BAU547 Nanjing Yaxi Town Central Hospital

inner sanctuary, outer crust:
BAU546 Nanjing Gaochun Qiqiao Hospital

an excessive minimalism:
BAU478-A U-Park Incubator, Shang Qing Huai, Nanjing

a plane of reference:
BAU474 Nanjing Zijin Gaochun Science and Technology City

rips in the fabric by place:
BAU461 Nanjing Tangshan Tourist Resort South District

other ideas of hospital:
BAU446 Fuding Hospital

architecture AND terrain:
BAU445 Suzhou Hi-tech District Cultural Center

crust: in-between and on the edge
BAU426 Shaoxing Jianhu Keyan Tourist Resort Planning

eco urbanism:
BAU425 Chongqing Eco Valley City

BAU348 Kunshan Hyper Complex

beyond the picturesque:
BAU347 Kunshan White Pagoda Park

don’t just re-use the typology, improve it!
BAU310 Hangzhou Changbanxiang Housing

building a community not just housing:
BAU302 Shanghai Ludi Baoshan

upside down program – ‘private’ circulation becoming ‘public’ circulation:
BAU254 Shanghai Wai Gao Qiao Culture Centre

extra-large private space as public space:
BAU199 Parktown, Housing, Fudi Forte, Wuxi

BAU197 Jindi Sanlin Pavilion

BAU191 Wuhan Cuiwei Housing

urban camouflage:
BAU227 Hangzhou Sports Centre

the resort at the end of the yellow dirt road:
BAU543 Emerald Village at Soul Bay

critical regionalism and abstraction:
BAU487 Nanjing Yaxi Citta-Slow

hospital for the ill, health care for the healthy, aged care for the elderly: BAU469 Zhaoxiang Hospital

tear open the package: BAU247 Qingpu NGS Supermarket

urban sponge:
BAU324 Cixi Commercial and Culture Center

lyrical islands in pragmatic seas:
BAU530-1 Nanjing Gaochun Transport Interchange – Stage One

fractured enormity:
BAU281 Chongqing Huarun

ring roads AND peripheral parks:
BAU243 Shanghai Ring Park

simple box OR 3 points in space – you choose:
BAU204-2 Ningbo Wanda Office

many utopias:
BAU129 Xinhu Pearl City Housing Development

a close family:
BAU125 Zhejiang Power Company HQ

stretching, squeezing, bending, trimming:
BAU550 Huanglong Xigu Urban Design

BOTH networks AND objects:
BAU497 Wyndham Cove Eco Sub-urb

ethics, democracy, difference:
BAU470 Towards a Socially Sustainable Canberra

warp and woof:
BAU460 Jingzhou Museum

sustainable technologies for clean living:
BAU396 Nanjing Residential

network of learning:
BAU341 Yushanwan School

not in galleries, but a way of seeing:
BAU338 Jingqiao Ramp Restaurant

shopping sandwich:
BAU321 Jiangyin Wuxing Commercial Centre

celebrating the collective, the intimate, the sustainable, and the local:
BAU312 Suzhou School

21st century Ponte Vecchio:
BAU287 Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bridge

antidote: not another ghetto city:
BAU285 Chengdu North Central

at last …finally …some diversity:
BAU282 Jindi Sanlin Office

recycling and beyond
BAU264 Shanghai Jiashan Market

an assemblage of difference:
BAU256 Shanghai Hongqiao Performing Arts Center

streets as shelters, bars as amphitheaters, landscapes as playgrounds:
BAU235 Jinqiao Community Bars

reduce, reuse, recycle:
BAU220 Shanghai Sculpture Space

binary oppositions defining a field of operation – all we wanted was a park:
BAU122 Xiamen International Exhibition Centre

the hotel as microcosm of the city:
BAU018 Marque Hotel

…very strange:
BAU016 Penny Lane

the beautiful and the extraordinary:
BAU013 Hopetoun Bush Resort

a dynamic yet stable vehicle:
BAU510 Suzhou Tram Co. Headquarters

BAU486A Docklands Park, Yangtze River, Jiangyin

innovation both inside and out:
BAU433 Zhangjing Nobel Lake Park & Network

exquisite corpse
BAU416 Genetic City Caofeidian

landscape becomes urban design becomes architecture:
BAU390 Duolan Dong Dong Mixed Use Complex

BAU386 Symbiotic City

repetition and difference:
BAU384 Kunshan Pavilions

no longer drowning – waving:
BAU339-2&3 Suzhou Creek Promenade

yet another point of view:
BAU339-1 Suzhou Creek Serpentine Park

ordinary not heroic, symbolic not monumental:
BAU318 Hangzhou Xiaoshan Government Headquarters

woven threads:
BAU234 Jiangyin Arbour Park

private precincts, public networks:
BAU226 Pudong Yangjing

creative networks:
BAU224 Chengdu Fenghuangshan

maximize commuication and cross fertilization:
BAU208 Linping New City Centre