The Lodge 2013 – Designs for a New Lakeside Residence

by The Editor

Lodge 3

The Lodge is different to counterparts in the United Kingdom and United States. Immediately next door to its parliament, it has spent most of its time cloistered behind a high, stone wall. The Lodge is old, small and apparently falling apart. What should we do with what is affectionately known as ‘the cottage’?

A little known fact, even among Canberrans, is a generous tract of land has remained in reserve for the building of the Prime Ministers’ residence. Yes, much like Old Parliament House. The Lodge is but a temporary structure design to offer an interim service until the city hit full bloom. The area reserved for future use cam be found between the Canberra Yacht Club and Government House (home to our Governor General) and is today frequented by joggers, cyclists and these guys.

Lodge Map

The Challenge
In the year of Canberra’s centenary the Gallery of Australian Design in conjunction with the University of Canberra decided to hold a competition to explore visions for Stirling Range (or Attunga Point as supporting documentation describes) held by contemporary architects. The brief was thorough – including full site plans, photos and elevations, as well as a chapter from Graeme Barrow’s delightful little tome The Lodge (well worth perusal) describing the philosophy and history of proposals over the years.

Lodge First Place

The Result
The winners, Jack Davies and team members Nicholas Roberts and Henry Stephens described their project thusly:

Externally, the building both enfolds the landscape and is subsumed by it. Retaining walls draw visitors into a choreographed entry space, pulling them through the earth in a series of intermediary spaces – compressing the archaic nature of the subterranean with shifting weather above.

We think that paragraph is so beautifully constructed with architectural wank as to be worthy of a prize all of its own, however we were even more impressed the designers were so committed to those last three words as to include an airborne view of their proposed structure clouded in fog.

Very nice.

Lodge First Place - Aerial

Here’s what the judging panel thought – managing to distill the entire page of these ephemeral ramblings down to a simple statement that makes the new Lodge sound like the perfect place for a barbeque:

This design stood out as one that most successfully integrates the built forms with the subtle landscape of Attunga Point. It responsibly owns the landscape, is beautifully sited and celebrates the lake edge location. It also reflects the informal nature of contemporary Australian lifestyles and architecture, while providing attractive larger spaces for public gatherings.

So What?
Despite our gentle mocking this has been a fantastic competition, and you would be well served by heading over to the official website and reading through the concepts of those recognised by the judges. The Lodge on the Lake exercise has allowed for truly free thinking on a project that has the potential to establish another building of international reputation in our capital. The White House and ‘Number 10’ are iconic for very different and separate reasons. If one day it is decided that a new Lodge is appropriate, we will have a rare opportunity to shift not only perceptions, but the activities and culture that surrounds the top job in our democracy.

Much like the Prime Ministership itself that’s not a job to be taken lightly.

Lodge 2

What are your thoughts on a new Lodge?  An indulgence for those already paid too much, or the missing piece in the city’s masterplan?