The Griffin Plan has been described as a “work of art”, a “work of genius” and as an urban design worthy of consideration for the new National Heritage List. Adapted to meet modern planning requirements, however, it has only partially been realised on the ground. The National Capital Authority – the agency responsible for the planning and development of aspects of Australia’s Capital considered to be of national significance – is revisiting the Griffin Plan in a project called the Griffin Legacy, to assess its relevance to the National Capital of the 21st Century.
Despite departures in the 90 years since its adoption, the Griffin Plan has proven to be robust. Many of its urban design principles have renewed currency in the contemporary planning debate, offering not only an elegant framework for the continued development of the Capital’s monumental core, but a viable pattern for a sustainable and economically competitive city – an antidote to sprawl. The Griffin Legacy project will ensure that Walter and Marion Griffin’s remarkable vision for Australia’s Capital is protected, as a work of both national and international stature.
A Griffin Legacy advisory panel was established by the Authority to advise on the project. Members of the expert panel include architect of the Federal Parliament House, Romaldo Giurgola; town planning historian Associate Professor Robert Freestone; architect and Griffin scholar Professor Anna Rubbo; Dorte Ekelund from ACT Planning and Land Authority; Immediate Past President of the Planning Institute of Australia, Mr John McInerney; and architect/author James Birrell.
A number of strategic initiatives to extend the Griffin Legacy have been formulated to present a renewed vision for Central Canberra. They seek to recapture and enlarge upon the spirit of the concepts that inspired the Plan, without attempting to slavishly replicate it.
The Griffin Legacy complements the ACT Government’s recently completed Canberra Spatial Plan (a comprehensive strategic review of Canberra’s metropolitan plan). The National Capital Authority has been working with the ACT Planning and Land Authority towards a Central Canberra Implementation Program to progress shared initiatives for these areas.
Further details of the urban design initiatives for “Extending the Griffin Legacy” will be published in the next edition of Urban Design Forum.