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Building character: 3 architecturally significant landmarks in Canberra

By Ben Faulks

Creative architectural choices are inherent to Canberra. Going right back to the city's roots, the Australian Capital Territory was always something a little different for this country. The site of our capital was chosen as a compromise between rivalling Sydney and Melbourne, and this decision led to Canberra being Australia's very first entirely planned city.

An international contest for Canberra's design saw American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin introducing geometric motifs and topographical alignment to our cityscape. Since its inception, Canberra has been home to architectural fascination.

So, whether you're buying an empty plot to build on or just want to shake up your current piece of Belconnen real estate, why not check out these architecturally significant buildings right here in the Australian capital.

New Parliament House

Situated at the southern point of Walter Burley Griffin's "National Triangle", New Parliament House on Capital Hill is home (of course) to the Australian Government. Though not quite the site planned for the parliament building by Burley Griffin, the then-government saw Capital Hill as befitting for the building's eminence.

The design brief for this building was comprised of 20 volumes, and sought to create a structure that was not expressive of power, but of the landscape and its people. Architectural firm Mitchell/Giurgola took inspiration from the original parliament house, but transferred it to a much larger scale.

The new building was designed to rise out of the ground, with an Australian flag flying at its peak. According to lead architect Romaldo Giurgola, it "could not be built on top of the hill as this would symbolise government imposed on the people…it was important that [it] be seen as extending an invitation to all citizens."

The New Parliament House is open to the public, so go on and take a gander at how this incredible building represents Australia's people.

The Shine Dome

An icon of its time, the Shine Dome was built amongst a slew of other domes appearing across the world during the 1950s and 60s. However, its sleek science-fiction-like design could have you believing it was made far more recently.

The Shine Dome is referred to jokingly (but lovingly) by locals as "the Martian Embassy". It houses the Australian Academy of Science, making its futuristic appearance all the more appropriate. As an arcaded dome, it contributes to Burley Griffin's geometric vision of Canberra.

The building is the largest dome in Australia and is made of concrete sheeted in copper. Its construction was considered a significant technical achievement of its time. This one is a must-see for anyone with an engineer's heart.

The National Museum of Australia

Moving away from traditional museum structures, the National Museum of Australia was designed following the post-modern idea of deconstructivism. Think deconstructed cheesecake, but in building form.

That doesn't mean you'll find girders lying around, but that the building deliberately appears fragmented and asymmetrical. According to architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall and Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan, this choice in style was made to represent the diversity of the museum's collection.

This building is sat on the Acton Peninsula, surrounded largely by water and appearing suspiciously like a particularly stylish Bond villain's headquarters. The many wonders of its architectural intrigue continue beyond its doors (which, for the record, are accompanied by an enormous vertical loop which continues into a footpath headed conceptually towards Uluru).

There isn't time in the world to describe all the ways Canberran architecture can blow you away – it's best you see it for yourself. Talk to any of the highly experienced real estate agents here at Ray White Belconnen to talk about your next home today.

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