Video created as part of the entry submitted by Office for Strategic Spaces (OSS) to the architecture competition of ideas "Capithetical". This is a competition held in 2012 that had to generate ideas for the future of Canberra, Australia's capital.

Description of the OSS' proposal

Canberra was always a project torn between ambition and avoidance… For fear of upsetting Sydney or Melbourne, the location of Australia’s capital avoided larger territorial aspirations in the way that Brasilia did shortly after. But its crystalline winning scheme was bold, and contained the promise of enlightened irradiation…It went well, if -naturally- slow, for a few years, until fear and abandonment struck again, in force… Postwar Canberra, like so many other cities at the time, let its future be designed by Cold-War traffic engineers, converting the dream of a modern Babylon into sprawl and highways. It is little wonder Canberrans seem intent in showing how they have to deal with obsolete roads, in all its forms…

Canberra's mix of ambition and banality is, nevertheless, what a good city is all about. A capital city will need a healthy amount of desire, a drive for the symbolic, but its structure will want normalcy.

Perhaps, then, what Canberra needs is just a little more of itself, albeit in different proportions, different amounts.
We can easily imagine the multiplying the original Griffin plan, as if we could repeatedly, and in different positions, add the city to itself, organizing the sprawl with public transport nodes and urban streets. The new nodes will be much denser, and allow for a much greater variety in its programmatic design. Instead of ‘pasting’ a new ‘Government’ or ‘Civic Center’ node on top of itself, we would displace and rotate them, giving each one of them the very urban quality of diversity that it is now lacking. With this reclaimed space for higher density, Canberra can then grow from the inside instead of sprawling away, lowering its expenditure on transport and its carbon and sustainability footprint.

Office for Strategic Spaces (OSS)
Author: Angel Borrego Cubero
Competition team: Elena Lozano, Paula Martínez, Bárbara Palacios

About the competition

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