Town Planning Review

Canberra's Centenary

Town Planning Review (2013), 84, (2), 0

Abstract

Looking at Canberra from an internationally comparative perspective, this viewpoint claims that the city is exceptional in a number of significant ways. Canberra is not only ‘one of the last Cities Beautiful’. This paper makes the surprising observation that among the many famous city-wide boulevard schemes conceived around the turn of the century from Chicago to Helsinki, only the one designed for Canberra was actually implemented to a significant extent. The fact that the skeleton of the wide City Beautiful was then largely fleshed out with bungalows is a different matter. Moreover, Canberra is not only ‘the world's biggest Garden City’. In no other city have Howard's Garden City principles been implemented in a similarly complete manner - ranging from a revenue-producing leasehold system to a network of large ‘self-contained satellites’ connected to a ‘central city’ with green core. The paper examines the visions and plans developed for Canberra from the versions of early modernism 1.0/1.1 via the versions of post-war modernism 2.1/2.2 and the neo-liberal 2.3 to the brief life of the 3.0 version of urban renaissance and ‘modernism reloaded’. It concludes with comments on the realities of 4.0 and 5.0 as new hybrid products of more and also less coordinated urban development.

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Author details

Fischer, Karl