Canberra, Australia, Australia
Year1913latitude: -35° 18'
longitude: 149° 7'
Initiator(s)Queen Victoria
Planning organization
Nationality initiator(s)
Designer(s) / Architect(s) National Capital Development Commission
Design organizationWalter Burley Griffin & Marion Mahony
Inhabitants350,000 (2008)
Target population
Town website
Town related links
Literature- National Capital Development Commission, 'Tomorrow's Canberra: Planning for Growth and Change", Australian Nat. Univ. Pr. 1970 (\n)
- Hamnett; Freestone (ed.) 'The Australian Metropolis: A Planning History', Allen & Unwin, Australia/NZ + Spon Press, UK 2000 (\n)
- Hugh Stretton, 'Ideas for Australian Cities'; Transit Australia Publishing, Sydney 1989 (1970)

type of New Town: > scale of autonomy
New Town
Company Town
> client
Private Corporation
Public Corporation
> policy


Designed to be the seat of the government the capital Canberra, lying in the small Australian Capital Territory situated within the state New South Wales, is the only Australian city that has been ruled by a singular planning idea guided by civic ideals. In 1910 an international competition for the design of the to-be completely planned, purpose-build city was held. The American landscape architect Walter Burley Griffin's plan was chosen. It contained a central lake and a 'parliamentary triangle' surrounded by residential areas with geometric street patterns, circular and radial in shape, and anticipated a population of 75,000. The city's foundation stone was laid in 1913, but according to WWI and consequently lack of money (funds), indecision of site selection and governmental changes, the building of the city progressed very slowly. During the 30s the population was around 10,000. The plan implemented needed a city: Homes, stores and offices were spread out over a site envisaged for a city ten times bigger. There are few examples of prewar modernist architecture. The population grew to 13,000 during the war, but with little infrastructure to support the growth.

After the war economic growth and population expansion caused by immigration and high Australian birth rates increased the governmental intervention in the process of urban growth. There are many examples of modernist architecture from this time. The powerful independent implementation agency National Capital Development Commission (NCDC). 1958-1989 NCDC acted, both as planning agency and developer. The original plan of Canberra was built out in the 60s, the city grew rapidly, and the urban area was expanded with a series of new town centres to the north and southwest of the city following a 'Y Plan'. Seven districts each of them got several suburbs. Residents began moving into the Woden suburb of Hughes in late 1963, Belconnen in 1967, Weston Creek, adjoining valley to Woden (today they are called Woden-Weston Creek), in 1969, Tuggeranong in 1973 and Gungahlin in 1975. By the mid 1980s the average cost of a residential lease in Canberra was $34,000, making it the most expensive of Australian capitals. Today the population is more than 320,000. A new Canberra Spatial Plan accommodates a population projection of up to 500,000. Canberrans are relatively young (average age 32 years), mobile, and well educated.


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