- Canberra : Political Decisions, Planning and Sustainable Development    click here to open paper content5178 kb
by    Twitchett, Bill | tecri@nordnet.fr   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
''Canberra is a young city for which pulsar effects during development came from a series of political decisions found necessary to overcome negative events that had seriously hampered its development. This paper traces events during the 20th century, briefly analyses the present situation, then looks at prospects for the future of the city, within the national and global context.''
Short lead:
Canberra is a city for whom the pulsar effects came from a series of political decisions found necessary to overcome negative events that had seriously hampered development. The present paper will trace evolution during the 20th century, analyse the present situation, then look at prospects for the future of the city within the national and global context.

Following the arrival of a small number of europeans on the Australian continent during the 18th century, it was during the 19th century that the development of six separate colonies led to discussion about their unification within a single federation. It was decided, through difficult negociation, that one of the conditions of this coming together would be the foundation of a new city as seat of the new national government, hence the initial impulsion for the creation of Canberra. Following study of several possiblilities, the site of the capital was chosen, on the western watershed and in the foothills of the Great Divide.

The winning design presented within a world-wide competition took full advantage of a spectacular landscape, combining major ceremonial axes and location of principal buildings with protection of vast nature reserves and integration of dwelling areas into the natural environment.

Although initial layout had began in 1913, firm political will was necessary to continue development in spite of three major ''anti-pulsar'' events : two world wars and the economic depression of the early thirties.

After 1945 the determining pulsar effect came from the political will to proceed, becoming manifest in the creation of the National Capital Development Commission with mission to study changing needs and to pilot future development of the city. The basic Walter Burley Griffin plan was taken into account, but a whole new approach was considered necessary to cope with a completely new set of needs regarding road and air transport as well as levels of population increase. A unique situation of rights for land use was a central factor in the choice of strategies. These included the maintenance of important nature reserves, particularly on the surrounding hills, as well as the concerted development of satellite garden cities, the conception of which was strongly influenced by the British garden city ideal and so including ecological criteria, long before the coining of the expression. The creation of the central lake radically changed the cityscape, then the culminating event was the inauguration of the new Parlement House in 1988 . The population had grown rapidly beyond the original intentions.

The ninety year long development has confirmed the role of the city as a place in Australia for central government functions, but the state capitals still vie for precedence wherever possible. Regional issues are becoming more and more urgent and Canberra has certainly a role to play within the context of the more densely populated south-east part of the continent. The inhabitants have tended to refuse self-government, but this has now been imposed, with major implications for the planning procedures. The economic and social sustainability of the city would seem to be assured, but will the same level of competence in ecological matters be maintained ?

One could imagine that the celebration of one hundred years of federation in 2001 would have been a highy significant event for the city, but it suffered from being overshadowed by the recent Millenium and Olympic Games celebrations in the country. Intercity commuting and telecommunications are new factors that are transforming the justification of the city. What are its hopes of becoming a ''real city''? To what extent will this be determined by the local population and by the need for the Australian people to live more in harmony with their natural environment? Are there comparisons to be drawn with sister cities such as Delhi, Brasilia, Abuja ...?
click here to open paper content  Click to open the full paper as pdf document
click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper  Click to send an email to the author(s) of this paper