TROBEC – CHIU have designed a new “house” for the Prime Minister of Australia.
The form of the headland is preserved so that the rich experience of walking along its main ridge-line is not diminished; there is not a manicured green but the natural plateau lends itself as the space for outdoor functions while remaining versatile as it maintains its complexities.
There is the potential to maintain complete public access to the foreshore in the spirit of Walter Burley Griffith and Marion Mahonney’s original Canberra design.
Paralleling with the planning of Canberra there are axes and nodes in the spatial plan (both at the level of the masterplan and the intimate interiors) that evoke an intuitive method for navigating the building and headland.
Spaces are lightly threaded together; these thresholds provide opportunities for exhibiting art & objects whilst allowing a visitor or resident to experience the poetic spatial qualities that emerge with architectural space and headland landscape merging.
Headlands are very exposed landforms. There is a natural tendency for people and animals to seek protection and shelter. The Lodge is buried into the headland. There is a more intense & nuanced relationship between private and intimate spaces (more buried) and public, extroverted spaces (more exposed), befitting the complex public/private relationships that need to be addressed in the Prime Ministers lodging.
A compass-like design draws upon the rich spatial opportunities presented by each direction of the headland.
There is a visual and metaphoric connection to Canberra city on the North-Eastern side, interwoven with the Function Centre and Dining Hall, which is in turn woven into the headland.
The rocky and exposed climb down to the lake on the Northern tip, dappled in decks, guides visitors to explore and occupy the headlands edges, which become informal places for interpretation and contemplation.
The North-Western side sweeps around to create its own natural harbour and is a place for arrival by water.
With its tall and solid trees, the Western-side is the most sheltered due to its topography and facing away from the City. The domestic centre of the lodging is stitched in here.
The Southern ends are connected to the mainland, from which there are arrivals and departures by foot, bikes and vehicles.