Commonwealth Place Kiosks

Canberra is distinctive in international terms as a planned city and seat of government. At the centre of the planning geometry sits the nations Parliament House. Its foreground consists of a range of buildings containing Australia's major public institutions - a sort of "architectural zoo" constructed over a fifty year period. Each of these public buildings is large in scale and gravitas - mostly concrete sculptural works containing the High Court, National Gallery, and so on. The termination of this axis occurs in the form of the National War Memorial.

The brief required amenity buildings to be located in the foreground of old Parliament House. These buildings are small in size (less than 50sq.m.) and of a "prosaic" use when compared to the institutions adjacent. The projects are key elements in transforming a ceremonial space into an active public space with appropriate amenity for public use. Thus, the design proposition was an exploration of the tensions that exist within the brief itself. How does one install a toilet just meters from the central axis connecting our Parliament and lake? What is an appropriate form for an ice-cream stand on the edge of the lake, with Parliament looming on the horizon?

The uncanny nature of the planned city and the formal nature of the setting resulted in small, blank timber boxes that read as sculptural installations within this largest of sculpture parks. The choice of timber relates the boxes to the trees and ferry wharf adjacent while the taut geometry resonates with the monumentality of the built context. The potential for absurdity when Griffin's overarching geometry of the city plan is pushed to the limits, exploited in small adjustments to these seemingly regular objects that, when seen at close range, defy explanation. The uncanny silence of the objects is counterpointed by a surprise - the hidden system of coloured tubes which filter light in a dispersed manner, a scaling up of the dappled shade of the trees adjacent.

The colours themselves are based upon the tonal range of the autumn leaves of these trees, connecting this timber and coloured object back to it's formal landscape context.

2008 Dulux Colour Awards WINNER Commercial Exterior

Photography by Brett Boardman and Geoff Comfort