New Acton South, Fender Katsalidis

New Acton South, Fender Katsalidis
photo John Gollings

What's on in the ACT

2016 ACT Architecture Awards
Entries Now Open
entries close 4 March.
To enter click HERE

DESIGN Canberra 2015

We invite all young designers* to take part in a team based design ideas competition to revitalise Garema Place in the City Centre

*High school and College students in Years 7 to 12, in teams of minimum 1 student to a maximum 5 students. Students do not have to be from the same Year Group or Class.
View ALL Competition entries HERE 

Voting for PEOPLE's Choice AWARD. Winners to be announced soon.

 *Voting closes Friday 11 December

In partnership with


The ACT Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects, in partnership with the University of Canberra is providing an opportunity for young designers to propose ideas to activate a significant public space in the heart of our city.

The competition will draw upon the talents of Canberra’s high school and college students recognising young people as key and active contributors to design outcomes in urban and public spaces.


Congratulation to all those that entered the competition. The high standard of entries and ideas that were generated impressed the jury and emphasised the importance of young designers as both the current and future users of our built environment, and the critical role they have in how our built environment is shaped.

And the winners are:

In the Category for the Best Built Form which focused on the design of a built element

1st Prize - The Greenhouse, with Lachlan Kendall and Adiari Ezekiel-Hart from UC Senior Secondary College, Lake Ginninderra

Greenhouse as a bold proposition is a starting point for us to consider how we can enhance and develop the existing public realm. It is inviting because it considers Canberra’s seasonal changes, by offering warm respite from cold winters. It also cleverly suggests how surrounding cafes and restaurants can grow fresh produce to support their livelihood and linkages to Garema Place  

2nd prize - Meet @ G, with Hansheng Li, Charamine Kwok, Georgia Glenn, Miaozi Weng and You Jung Ji from Lyneham High School

Meet@G is a central terminal for Canberra’s light rail, linking the city to other stations in Canberra. It includes a secondary level glazed podium which allows pedestrians to interact, to meet and to rest through a filtered and multicultural layer of shared greetings.    

 3rd Prize - Garema Cubed, with Maxwell Ashurst, Lisa Wu, Claire Yung, Michael Connolly and Lucinda Antcliff from Lyneham High School

Garema Cubed features a collection of mobile cubed elements that can be moved around for seating, shelter, pop-up stages and play. It is innovative and interactive allowing visitors to Garema Place to take ownership of the space by choosing the composition to suit a variety of functions, which allows the space to continually evolve.

In the Category for the best proposal of an event or activity that responded to the physical conditions of Garema Place

1st Prize for Best Activity/Event design -  Maxwell Ashurst, Lisa Wu, Claire Yung, Michael Connolly and Lucinda Antcliff from Lyneham High School

The Novel Event recognises the independent origins of traders in Garema Place, often quirky by nature but highly specific to its place. Through a festival of shared storytelling, it will build upon the many layers of our diverse community, bringing us together through the multiple stories that shape our city. It is reminiscent yet still relevant to what is so special about Garema Place. 

 2nd prize - Narragunnawali meaning “coming together”, with Peter Gedeon, Kiran Phillips, Elise Palethorpe and Georgina Lyall from Lyneham High School

Narragunnawali is an original take on a universal concept - as a Festival of Light – calling upon local artists, musicians and traders to come together to celebrate inclusion. It incorporates locally produced cuisine, artists and performers together with charities to consider our shared commonalities

3rd prize - Switch On, with Eleanor Foster, George Kelleher, Elise Kelleher, Mailani Dalale and Phillipa Hall, from Telopea Park School.

Switch On is focused on developing a share economy –where traders share a space so there are multiple functions for single shops. Daytime traders like florists and cafes share their spaces with night time music venues and bars - keeping Garema Place alive around the clock to effectively and efficiently share space and resources.

Key dates

  • Formal launch of brief and registration online 6 weeks prior to DESIGN Canberra Festival – start of Term 4 – by Monday 19th October 2015
  • Registration closes on Friday 20th November
  • Briefing sessions available at schools from Monday 26th October to Wednesday 18th November 2015
  • Design Ideas and Model Making Workshop with University of Canberra Architecture students as tutors (3 hours x 4 sessions) on Saturday 21st. While encouraged to participate, these sessions are optional but places are limited so need to be booked at registration. Venue ShopfrontX2 on level Level 1, Garema Arcade (building directly north of Garema Place).
  • Informal drop in sessions, tutoring during the weekdays of DESIGN Canberra Festival, Monday 23rd to Friday 27th November 2015, 3.00-5.00pm and Sunday 22nd 10am-4pm. Venue ShopfrontX2 on level 1, Garema Arcade. Submission of presentation panels, Saturday 28th November, 9.30am-12 noon, Venue ShopfrontX2.
  • Public exhibition of presentation panels, Saturday 28th November, 12.30-3.00pm, Venue ShopfrontX2
  • Jury deliberation, Saturday 28th November, 3.30-6.00pm
  • Continued public exhibition, Sunday 29th November, 9.30am-12 noon, Venue ShopfrontX2
  • Awards ceremony, Sunday 29th November, 12.00 noon-1.00pm, Pavilion X Garema Place
  • Participation in panel discussion (by selected finalists) on issues of urban renewal and city building, Sunday 29th November 1.00-2.00pm,Pavilion X Garema Place
  • Presentation of proposals and ideas to key stakeholders (by selected finalists), date and venue tbc
  • Awards presentation to school assemblies, dates to be coordinated with schools


  • Shopfront X2 in Garema Place - Level 1, Garema Arcade (building directly north of Garema Place) 
  • Pavilion X in Garema Place for Awards announcement
  • Presentation by shortlisted finalists at a workshop forum to key stakeholders, venue and date tba

The Competition Brief

“First we shape the cities – then they shape us”

Jan Gehl - world renowned urban designer and architect

Cities provide the forum for where we work, meet, shop, live, share ideas, trade and relax. Its public spaces provide the settings that support these activities. Garema Place, as part of City Walk in the Canberra City Centre, has historically been central to the public life of the city, but in recent times, much of the active life of the city has shifted elsewhere.

Despite brief moments hosting public events and festivals, throughout much of the year, Garema Place lacks activity.

The competition brief invites proposed ideas of activation in 2 key categories:

  1. As built form or installation(s) – proposals of pavilion or stage, for seating, for exercise, for play, for relaxation.
  2. As an activity, festival or program of events – as singular or linked activities that considers connectivity to other public spaces in the city or elsewhere

In order to get you started, some key questions to provoke design ideas and direction:

Note: This is not a comprehensive list nor does every question have to be answered.  They are intended to spark discussion, and to provide some leads to the issues of priority in your design explorations. The questions identified in bold are aspirational and broad in scope with following questions more specific and intended to invite pragmatic responses.  

  1. What do you want Canberra’s city to be like in 20 years?
    What design principles and priorities would you put in place now to achieve this in the future? 
  2. Should Canberra’s city have a unique urban built form or cultural identity?
    Can this be defined in physical characteristics of scale, height of buildings, block size, walking distance, types of use etc.?
  3. What does the city and its public spaces mean to you?
    Describe this in both quantitative (functional) and qualitative (sensory) ways.
  4. What are the critical ingredients needed for a healthy, vibrant and sustainable city?
    List your priorities for what makes a space endurable – besides amenity, security privacy, accessibility, connectivity, sunshine, shade, seating, landscaping, trees, art and sculpture, colour, paths for walking and cycling, lighting - what other considerations are there?
  5. How can our public spaces be more responsive to the community? What activities are lacking in our public spaces?
    Which part of our community is less represented or catered for in our public spaces? Consider different age, gender, cultural and social groups (e.g. from toddlers to the elderly, active and handicapped, wealthy and homeless)
  6. The city supports many festivals and activities during the year. Identity the ones you have attended and why.
    List others that you think will contribute to a vibrant and engaged community
  7. Do you see Garema Place as a thoroughfare or destination point? How do you approach it?
    Considering the various modes of car, bus, bike, walk, skateboard, etc. –how would your design cater for the different speeds and entry points?
  8. What would make you stay longer in in Garema Place?
    Are there facilities, services and activities that suit your age group? If not, what would you propose?

Prizes and Award Categories

There are 2 categories for Awards:

  1. Best built form / installation
    This includes a design idea focused on a built element which may be specific to a singular or multiple use e.g. bandstand, pavilion, adventure playground, shelter. Alternatively it could be a sculptural element including a folly or art piece(s)
    1st prize - $1,000.00, 2nd prize - $500.00, 3rd prize - $250.00 
  2. Best activity / event
    This includes proposals focused around events and activities that respond to the physical and built characteristics of Garema Place and City Walk. Proposals can accept existing conditions as given or suggest how the space(s) can be altered to allow activation of proposed events. These events can be singular or repetitive activities, theme based, seasonal or diurnal, etc.
    1st prize - $1,000.00, 2nd prize - $500.00, 3rd prize - $250.00

The Competition Jury will determine and award the prizes. All awards and decisions of the Jury will be final and binding.

There will also be a People’s Choice Award.

Who can enter

ACT high school and college students, Years 7-12, in teams of minimum 1 to maximum 5 students. Students do not have to be from the same year group or class.

We are also accepting multiple submissions (meaning maximum 2) from individuals, so if students want to enter another scheme either on their own, in the same group or with someone else, this offer more opportunity to win an award. When registering please advise the ACT Chapter if you are submitting for than one entry.

This is an equal opportunities competition where selection of finalists will be based on merit. 

Relatives of jury members are ineligible and must not assist any eligible person.

How to Register

Registration is free, but entries are limited so register early to avoid missing out.

Registration closes on Friday 20th November, 2015

Register your interest online or by email to, with contact details of your key contact registrant, the names of other team members and your school.

The Registration Form (click here to download) (pdf) (docx) will need to be filled in and submitted by each participant in the team. An invitation to participate in one of the 4 Design and Model making Workshops (see Workshop Dates below) with University of Canberra Architecture students on the first weekend of DESIGN Canberra Festival will be included on the Registration Form.

Once your completed form is received and accepted, you will be provided with a Registration Number that will be your identifier on the front of your submission panel. Your nominated Workshop session (time and venue) will also be confirmed.

Completed Registration Forms can be delivered by hand or posted to:

Australian Institute of Architects, ACT Chapter, 2a Mugga Way, Red Hill ACT 2603

They can also be scanned and emailed to

Phone 6208 2100 for queries.

Briefing Session

After registration, it is expected that your team will initiate and explore ideas independently in response to the Competition Brief Questions (see above). These ideas should be developed in consideration of the specific Award Category, either a Built Form or as Proposed Activity/Event. 

If required, an information briefing session by the Competition Organiser can be arranged by your school teacher or school appointed contact person, with an email request to This will be conducted at your school and can include a Question and Answer session to address queries that may arise.

Alternatively, teams will be able to send questions to with the subject titled “Young Designers Take On Garema Place Ideas Competition”.  All questions and answers will be posted on our website and made available to all other registrants.

Briefing sessions (one per school) are available from Monday 26th October to Wednesday 18th November 2015

Design Development

It is the responsibility of each team to coordinate their own design and development process independently, either outside of school hours or if supported by your school, during school hours. It is expected that the major components of your design ideas and detailed proposals will have been largely explored and finalised prior to DESIGN Canberra Festival.

Workshop Participation

All teams will have the opportunity to attend a 3 hour workshop on the first weekend of DESIGN Canberra Festival to refine design proposals and learn how to convey ideas graphically in a clear and legible manner. You will be tutored by University of Canberra Architecture students in a dynamic and interactive process in Shopfront X2 (details of venue tbc).

A large scale physical model at 1:50 of Garema Place will be provided to facilitate explorations of design ideas and proposals. It is encouraged that teams use the scaled model to better comprehend the context and scale of the site and to build models of their own design proposals to locate within the base model.  

Teams will be invited to take photos of their models in the scaled base model of Garema Place for inclusion on the presentation panel. Alternatively, teams are encouraged to explore opportunities for photo montage compositions using their model within the actual built context of Garema Place.

Shopfront X2 will be open during the weekdays from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th November for informal drop-in sessions by teams or individuals to finalise model making.

Design and Model Making Workshop Dates

  1. 9am-12 noon Saturday 21st November
  2. 1pm-4pm, Saturday 21st November

Other Resources

All material required for drawing and presentation during the Workshop sessions will be provided. Materials include foam core panels, pens, pencils, paper for participants and graphic presentation materials.

All material required for making scaled models to be located on a 1:50 base model of Garema Place will also be provided. Materials include cardboard, card, skewers, paddle-pop sticks, wire, pipe cleaners, foam, polystyrene, mesh and many other materials for design exploration

Relevant background information and maps will also be provided. Click here for site information and aerial map 1 and aerial map 2 showing context and details of existing conditions.

Printing and photocopying of images and text will be facilitated at the Shopfront X2 workshop venue.

Submission Requirements

  • 1 x A3 sheet graphically describing ideas for built form / inserted element or event / activity - to be submitted mounted on 5mm foam core board that will be provided at the Workshop
  • Maximum 100 words design intent and description of ideas, to be included on the A3 sheet

In keeping with an Ideas Competition format, graphic presentation of ideas can be inclusive of a variety of media including story boards, photo montages, collages, sketches that are hand drawn or computer generated.

Technical drawing skills are not necessary, just an imagination and willingness to explore and develop ideas.

You are required to display the team’s Registration Number in the bottom right hand corner of the A3 board. You are not to include any text or symbol on the front of the panel that could identify any of the individuals in the team or school. Failure to comply with this condition will immediately disqualify your entry from the competition process.

Framed submissions, or those on heavy backing material, will not be accepted.

Submission Process

All presentation panels are to be finalised off site and submitted in the second weekend of DESIGN Canberra Festival, Saturday 28th November 2015.

Drop your Entry submission off to Shopfront X2 Level 1, Garema Arcade between 9.30am and 11.55am. Entries will not be received later than 12 noon

There will be a public exhibition of all entries on the same day Saturday 28th November, 12.30-3.00pm. The exhibition will then be closed for jury deliberation 3.30-6.00pm on the same day

Competition Jury

ACT Government representative (tba)

  • Andrew MacKenzie, Head of School, Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra

  • Jane Easthope, CEO, Canberra CBD Ltd

  • Andrew Smith, Chief Planner, National Capital Authority

  • Architect –Ann Cleary FRAIA (architect, senior lecturer at University of Canberra)

  • Hannah Walsmley, 666ABC Reporter

Award Ceremony

The Awards ceremony will be on Sunday 29th November, 12.30am-1.30am.  All participants together with their families and friends are encouraged to attend

The Chief Minister or Minister for Planning (to be confirmed) will award prizes

Post Competition

A couple of selected finalists will be invited to participate in a panel discussion on the same day of the Awards Ceremony.

Shortlisted finalists will also be invited to present their ideas to key stakeholders including ACT Government and the public. This will be confirmed after DESIGN Canberra Festival, date and venue tbc

Awards will be formally presented at School Assemblies in Term 4


Registrants will retain the copyright and moral rights of attribution and integrity in their entry and the designs embodied in it and will grant to the Australian Institute of Architects and its partners, an exclusive and irrevocable authority to use images of the design for publication, exhibition or promotion of the competition, or for any similar purpose, in accordance with consent as identified on the Registration Form.


Competition Director:  Janet Thomson, Architect,

Competition Advisor: Kirsty Westaway, Architect,

Enquiries may be directed to the ACT Chapter of The Australian Institute of Architects on 6208 2100 or

Some Useful Links

Jan Gehl, Hon. FAIA is a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen and whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist.

Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a non-profit planning, design and educational organisation dedicated to helping people creat and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

PPS has great resources for establishing priorities in your design strategy including the following articles and tools:

Eleven Principles for Creating Great Community Places

The Power of 10+: Applying Placemaking at Every Scale

What Makes a Successful Place? Ten Strategies for Transforming Cities and Public Spaces through Placemaking

Creating Places for People is a collaborative commitment to best practice urban design in Australia. It is championed by peak community and professional organisations, businesses and all three levels of government.

Urban design is both a process and an outcome of creating localities in which people live, engage with each other, and engage with the physical place around them. Creating Places for People does not take a one size fits all approach. It provides broad principles that take into account the unique characteristics of a location, people’s enjoyment, experience and health; and encourages excellence and collaboration in the design and custodianship of urban places.


for fact sheet on the Australian Capital Territory, see

Charles Montgomery, Happy City founder and principal, is an award-winning author, urbanist and leader of transformative experiments, research and conversations about wellbeing in cities. His acclaimed book, Happy City, Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness.

for youtube video, see

Canberra CBD Limited (CCBD) started after a group of property owners approached the ACT Government with a request to start a business improvement district in the CBD of the nation’s capital.

Canberra CBD Ltd Transforming Canberra’s City Centre Discussion Paper, see:

Some relevant images to start your own pictorial reference

Garema Place 1965

Canberra Multi-cultural festival

Garema Place – on a normal working weekday

Outdoor dining, Garema Place

Canberra Multi-cultural festival – food stalls

Night view of lighting in trees, City Walk

Street art, location unknown

Skate in the Park, Garema Place

Cafe Alley, Garema Place

Public Art, City Walk

Art, Not Apart Festival New Acton

Christmas Lights in the City

Honky Tonks Night Markets, Garema Place

Examples of how activation can enliven public spaces:

You are encouraged to investigate other examples of public space activation

Before: Broadway and Times Square, New York City, pre-2007. Photo courtesy Department of Transport (DOT).

After: the same location, Broadway at Times Square in 2009, after Gehl Architects worked with the City of New York and the Department of Transport on a major urban realm and bibycle strategy in New York. Photo courtesy Department of Transport (DOT).

Before: Ashrafieyh Square, Amman, Jordan pre-2005. Cars dominate with a lack of pedestrian access. Photo courtesy Gehl Architects.

After: Gehl Architects worked with the Greater Amman Municipality on an urban realm strategy for a car-free, pedestrian-focused public space. Photo courtesy Gehl Architects.


Young Designers Light Rail Ideas Competition

See all the entries HERE

Young Designers envisage Light Rail Solution for Canberra


Budding designers have created their own solutions for a future light rail station in Canberra as part of the Young Designers Light Rail Ideas Competition held at the University of Canberra from 7-8 April.

The two-day event brought together more than 100 students from 14 schools across Canberra. Congratulations to everyone who participated. 

Working collaboratively with architecture students and graduates, the high school students conceptualised a range of designs inspired by the city’s natural and built environment and rich cultural history.

The teams of three to five students were assessed by the jury for best station or light rail stop design, best connection to neighbourhood/community facilities and most innovative idea, with the jury awarding a first and second prize for each category.

The winning proposals were strong in their resolution of creative ideas. Each project had a distinctive connection to place and provided architecturally vibrant, sustainable, and community focused environments for light rail travellers.

Congratulations to our winners who have been made famous in the architectural circles with today’s news articles in ArchitectureAU, Architecture & Design, and last week’s feature on ABC. Also, check out all the photos from the competition on Facebook and the Captial Metro website,  as well as an exciting Youtube Video.


Best station or light rail stop design

First Prize:Barking up the Right Tree” by Lyneham High School – Crayons

Peter Gedeon, Kiran Philips, Elise Palethorpe and Georgina Lyall

‘This project is a bold insertion into Garema Place where bark has been used to inspire the design of the shelter.  The design is an inviting space for a diverse demographic.’ – Jury citation

Second Prize: Get in Touch” by St John Paul II Catholic College – Get in Touch

Tim Velstra, Liam Gellatly, Charlotte Foster and Rios Valenzuela

‘Utilising tree branches as inspiration, Get in Touch focuses on the natural environment and uses the shape of a leaf to shelter the rail stop.’ – Jury Citation

Best connection to neighbourhood/community facilities

First Prize: Bringing the Outdoors in” by Telopea Park School - teleo2600

Bella Rodrigues-Csokas, George Kelleher, Phillippa Hall, Meilani Salale and Eleanor Foster

‘This project creates symbols or icons to represent various stations that are meaningful to places in Canberra. Environmental sustainability embodies the design and connects people to nature.’ – Jury citation

Second Prize: “It’s About Time” by Lyneham High - Leaps + Bounds

Max Ashurst, Claire Yung, Lisa Wu, Lucinda Antcliff and Michael Connolly

‘It’s About Time draws on Canberra’s cultural history using various poignant events to inspire a social timeline, inspiring different themes for each station.’ – Jury citation


Most innovative design

First Prize: “It’s About Time” by Lyneham High - Leaps + Bounds

Max Ashurst, Claire Yung, Lisa Wu, Lucinda Antcliff and Michael Connolly

‘Winner of two prizes, this project is powerful in its use of Canberra’s history to inspire the design.’ – Jury citation

Second Prize: “HexaPlex” by Daramalan / Merici College - Team Metro

Tim Willington, Daniel Gaudiosi, Brianna Secko and Amanda Huot

‘An environmentally responsive design, this project is a collection of hexagonal pods that forms a canopy inspired by Walter Burley Griffin.’ – Jury citation


Information about the Competition

The Competition brief

What do you want Canberra to be like in 20 years? Develop your design skills and explore ideas for the future of our city.

Participate in teams of three to five in this unique two day design ideas workshop competition. Groups will be partnered with tutors (architectural students and graduates) to assist in developing ideas in a dynamic design process. Your tutor will help facilitate and guide your design ideas into a clear presentation for display.


Competition Jury:

    Ann Cleary, Course Convenor, Senior Lecturer in Architecture | Faculty of Arts and Design | University of Canberra, 1st prize joint prize winner Light Rail ideas competition

    Rob Henry, Architect and tutor in Architecture, National Chair of Emerging + Graduate Architects Network (EmAGN) ACT and Competition Advisor

    Professor Will Steffen, scientist and author, Canberra Urban and Regional Futures (CURF), Australian National University's Climate Change Institute

    Tom Percival, Manager Planning and Urban Design, Capital Metro

    Hannah Walmsley, Producer, ABC 666



Competition Director:  Janet Thomson, Architect,

Competition Advisor: Rob Henry, Architect

Enquiries may be directed to the Australian Institute of Architects on 6208 2100 or

Useful Links:


Proudly sponsored by 


Four bold and progressive ideas for alternative housing options for Canberra have been unanimously selected as the winners of the New Experimental Architectural Typologies (NEAT) competition.

Minister Corbell launched the exhibition and announced the winners and was suitably impressed by the diversity and calibre of the entries.

The collaborative competition – a joint venture between the Australian Institute of Architects, Land Development Agency, Environment and Planning Directorate, and Defence Housing Australia – invited entrants to come up with viable concepts for innovative and compact dwellings suitable for the nation's capital in the 21st Century while also challenging current planning rules.

The prize pool included individual international travel grants worth up to $10,000 and the opportunity for entrants’ submissions to be considered for implementation through the ACT Community Services Directorate and DHA.

Ideas generated through the competition may now provide a tangible basis for the ACT Planning Authority to consider in the drafting of future planning regulations.

Jury Deliberation

After spirited discussion and detailed consideration by the jury 11 entries were shortlisted for further consideration.

ENTRY 09 project 1   
 Melinda Dodson, Tim Dyer, Candice Andrews and Phoebe Gordon

ENTRY 12 project 2   
 Andy Macdonald


 Michael Zanardo


 Patanant Luangsangthong


 Amy Leenders


 Martin Urakawa


 Rob Henry

ENTRY 56 project 1
 Nobbs Radford Architects


 Kieran McInerney


 Tynan Freeman


 Andrew Daly

NEAT First Prize

Melinda Dodson, Tim Dyer, Candice Andrews and Phoebe Gordon awarded for ENTRY 09 project 1 – HI House.

'The jury was unanimous in acclaiming this as an intelligent and sophisticated look at higher density in Canberra; an approach which questions prevailing attitudes whilst providing a sensitive and thoughtful alternative.'

Read the Jury's full citation for HI House.

NEAT Second Prize

Rob Henry awarded for ENTRY 52 – subMERGED.

'This proposal provides an innovative, fresh approach to increasing densities in Canberra…this entry was deemed to respond very well to the challenge of exploring experimental living options, as a foundation for Canberra to move into its next evolution of development.'

Read the Jury's full citation for subMERGED.

NEAT Third Prize

Nobbs Radford Architects awarded for ENTRY 56 project 1 – FAMILY House.

'This scheme looks at a compact site and how a single house can be accommodated without compromising on the liveability...There is a lot of potential for this scheme to be further developed, and…to have this incorporated into key sites within local neighbourhoods.'

Read the Jury's full citation for FAMILY House.

NEAT Fourth Prize

Kieran McInerney awarded for ENTRY 67 – N.E.A.T STREET.

'This proposal is a design concept that enables flexibility and incremental change for urban redevelopment…The jury agreed that this proposal provided a well-considered approach to the redevelopment of Canberra's residential areas.'

Read the Jury's full citation for N.E.A.T STREET.

Competition Background

The development of Canberra over the past 100 years has resulted in a very suburban styled city that both attracted and now holds the confidence of nearly 400,000 residents. However, the challenges of the 21st century require a modification to the model. As many of the original settlers now age, a far greater demographic diversity is evolving. Cities are always changing, and for a confident future they now have to live more sustainably. Many architects and planners created the Nation's capital. This housing ideas competition is an opportunity for contemporary architects to demonstrate how Canberra can continue to develop as an exemplary, sustainable, innovative and affordable city. Over the past years, planning rules and regulations have been incrementally suppressing the options available for alternative housing typologies. Competitors were invited to be innovative, exciting and challenge the status quo.

Patience, perseverance and effort have been exerted by many people to initiate, manage and realise the ideas in this competition.

Tony Trobe and Natalie Coyles initiated the competition 18 months ago. They envisaged the benefits for the architectural profession to identify the issues surrounding housing design and to make a positive and leading contribution to improving housing design for the future. Tony and volunteers from the ACT Chapter progressively developed the initiative, with the important support of ACT Government.

Tony Carey, as the competition consultant was able to professionally and co-operatively liaise between various government agencies and the Institute, to prepare a succinct and challenging competition brief.

The jury of Alan Morschel, David Sutherland, Alix Kaucz, Kristi Jorgensen, and Hoa Luu brought a diverse range of relevant experiences to their demanding task. They enjoyed the experience of viewing and considering so many quality submissions.

The high level of interest in, and the response to the competition from the architectural profession in Australia was very satisfying to the organisers and further demonstrates the desire of the profession to improve housing design and choices. Eighty-two registrations were made and 61 submissions received. They explored a broad range of housing typologies: courtyard houses, terraces or mews, flats, granny flats, and mixed use complexes of residences, shops, and small offices. The design solutions can be suitably replicable on both green field and infill sites. Affordability was mostly addressed by departing from the planning instruments, especially in the areas of density and dwelling sizes. Reduced car parking numbers, increased density, and reduced setbacks were commonly challenged. Reduced private open space was usually replaced with a well-designed shared community area.

The ACT Government and its Ministers for Planning, Economic Development, Territory and Municipal Services and Housing, through the Land Development Agency and Environment and Planning Directorate have been generous supporters of the New Experimental Architectural Typologies competition.

View the NEAT Competition entries here.

Post-Competition Opportunity

The competition has arisen from a project proposal by the Institute and the ACT Land Development Agency to design and construct prototype homes demonstrating innovative, compact housing typologies on an infill site in Canberra.

A Steering Committee has been established to administer the project.

Independent of the Competition, but following on from it, the Steering Committee (see below) may, at its absolute discretion, shortlist a number of concepts submitted to the Competition for possible design refinement, documentation and construction by the ACT Community Services Directorate (CSD) and / or Defence Housing Australia (DHA) on a specific infill site within Canberra.

It should be noted that concepts design selected by the Steering Committee for the construction project may not be limited to, and may not include, those entries awarded competition prizes. This is due to the fact that these two organisations may have specific client requirements that may not be evident in the awarded entries.

Should CSD and / or DHA decide to proceed to develop the project:

  1. Shortlisted entrants will be invited to work with CSD / DHA to locate and refine selected concepts on a selected site, so as to address interface issues with neighbouring properties, with other typologies within the site, and incorporate amendments to meet client needs, so as to derive a project masterplan based upon the selected typologies.
  2. The project masterplan and the typologies selected will then be the subject of inclusive engagement with the community, with the objective of obtaining a masterplan and typologies that are mutually acceptable to all key stakeholders.
  3. Subject to achieving a satisfactory master planning outcome, CSD / DHA may then, at their absolute discretion, offer design commissions to selected Architects to document the design concepts to DA standard.
  4. Architects commissioned by CSD / DHA will be offered industry standard terms and conditions, and will be expected to offer industry competitive rates for the services offered.
  5. ALL ENTRANTS must specify their willingness (or otherwise) to be considered for this post project opportunity.

NEAT Partners


Architecture Ideas Competition Generates Light Rail Solutions

Launched in December 2013, the competition sought ideas for the design and siting of a light rail station at Dickson along the City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor, responding to the nature of Canberra's landscape, integration into the local community and architectural presentation as a transport hub.

Four submissions from a total of 21 entries were selected by the jury for recognition, representing radically different solutions to the design of the light rail station and its potential contributions to Canberra's principal transport corridor and the city's urban heart.


1st Prize

Ann Cleary (University of Canberra) and Cassandra Cutler (Total Project Group) awarded for their entry Urban Line.

2nd Prize

Sarah Herbert and Kate Shepherd won 2nd prize for their entry RE:LAYERED.

3rd Prize

Nugroho Utomo and Gerard O'Connell for their project Crossroads.

4th Prize

Can Ercan for his project Canberra Light Rail Ideas Competition.

Shortlisted Entries

Joanna Nelson, Damian Roos, Patrick Stein & Lester Yao, Tynan Freeman, Jesus Garcia, Nikki Butlin & Karina Smith, Nathan Judd, Allan Greene & Dennis Formiatti, Pedro Geleris & Robert Thorne and Janet Thomson.

An exhibition will be held for the 10 shortlisted entries. Watch this space for more details coming soon.

Competition Jury

The competition jury comprises of design professionals selected by the Advisory Panel. The Jury will be chaired by John McInerney. The Jury will determine and award the prizes.

John McInerney architect & planner

John is an architect and town planner with special interests in transport and heritage. 

Pamille Berg public art coordinator

Pamille is the Director of Pamille Berg Consulting and 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 over 30 years. 

Iain Maxwell architect

Iain is a registered architect, design researcher, director of supermanoeuvre and senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney. 

Design Brief

The vision for light rail in the city of Canberra can be found in the Walter Burley Griffin 1913 Canberra Plan.

The initiative for a staged rollout of light rail in the city was outlined in the 2012 ACT Government election, where a two-party commitment was formed between ACT Labor and the ACT Greens. The proposal for Stage 1 of the Canberra light rail network is for a transit rail system from Gungahlin Town Centre to the City which caters for projected growth in North Canberra. The proposal is currently in the planning phase and is being delivered by the Capital Metro Agency, a body formed by the ACT Government in July 2013.

The proposed site for the competition is to be located in Dickson along Northbourne Ave, one of Canberra's main arterial roads heading towards the city centre. It includes Northbourne Ave to the west, is bound by Antill St to the north and Challis St to the east, and extends to the intersection of Challis and Cape Sts to the south.

The Dickson Station will be the mid-station for the light rail network between two main stations: City Centre (Civic) and Gungahlin Town Centre.

Parts of the proposed site for this competition are occupied by existing buildings. For the purpose of this competition these buildings can be relocated to make way for the future station at the discretion of the entrant.

Please note that site extents outlined here are for the purposes of this competition only and do not align to any Capital Metro Agency's site proposals.

Urban Context

Majority of visitors who arrive in Canberra by road enter the city along Northbourne Ave. Leading up to the city the avenue is bound by suburbs and leisure facilities (a golf course and playing fields). At the junction of Antill St and the proposed location for the Dickson light rail station, Northbourne Ave changes its character to include four- to eight-storey office buildings, giving the site an opportunity to be viewed as the gateway to the city. This should be considered in the design of the station.

Refer to the Dickson Master Plan for more details.

Climate & Sustainability

The design of the Canberra Light Rail Station is to take into consideration Canberra's climate extremes. Canberra's inland location and altitude produce warm to hot summers and cold winters, with daily and annual temperature ranges more extreme than in other Australian capital cities. Sheltering the commuters is a challenge that would be interesting to resolve.

Light Rail Specifications

The light rail tram can travel along the median strip or kerbside along Northbourne Ave to the entrant's discretion. For more information refer to the City to Gungahlin Transit Corridor: Concept Design Report (April 2012). The size of the light rail vehicles are 30m long and 3.65m wide.

Functional Spaces

The Canberra Light Rail Station should be designed looking at future possibilities and technologies of a light rail network. The station layout should be intuitive for passengers and users, and promote ease of movement between transport modes.

Network Connections

The station should connect to the wider Canberra public transport, pedestrian and cycle networks to form a 'transportation hub' connecting people and communities.