My town series: Parliament House
In Australia we have 2 buildings, one is called OLD Parliament House (picture below) and the other is NEW Parliament House, the latter is 22 years old (opened on 9 May 1988 by the Queen Elizabeth II) and is the current home of the Australian Government. Old Parliament House was occupied from 1927 to 1988 and was always considered a temporary building until on was built.
The current Parliament House was designed by the New York-based architectural firm of Mitchell/Giurgola Architects lead by the Italian architect Romaldo Giurgola (they won a competition to design the building). At the time of its construction (see below), it was the most expensive building in the Southern Hemisphere at over $1.1 billion (Aust). Construction began in 1981 and was expected to cost $220 million (boy, didn’t they get that wrong).
From above, the design of the site is in the shape of two boomerangs enclosed within a circle. Much of the building is buried beneath Capital Hill (in the diagram below, the green is a hill that goes over the House and covered in lawn) but the meeting chambers and accommodation for parliamentarians are free-standing within the boomerang-shaped arms.
Here are some interesting statistics:
- There are 25,000 granite slabs on the curved walls which, placed end to end, would stretch 46 km
- The building required 300,000 cubic metres of concrete
- The Foyer contains 48 Italian and Portuguese marble clad pillars
- Has a design life of at least 200 years
- The building has 4,700 rooms
- Contains 2,416 clocks that are used for calling members or senators to a vote.
- On a sitting day there could be 2,000 to 3,000 people working there.
- The flag flown from the 81-metre flagpole is 12.8m by 6.4m, about the size of half a tennis court. The flagpole weighs 220 tonnes and is made of polished stainless steel.
- Parliament House is surrounded by 23 hectares of landscape designed gardens
This is a view towards to the front entrance the building, see the flag pole in the centre. At the front is a large shallow pond. The picture below is inside the building, central court yard looking up towards the flag pole.
The forecourt in front of the building has a featured mosaic dot painting featuring approximately 90,000 hand-guillotined circular pieces of granite. This recognizes the important history of Australia's Indigenous People. Below is the House of Representatives (where the Prime Minister sits) - this house is green and the second House is called the Senate and it is red. For those American blog friends - our system of government is based on the British system (in part) with a little stolen from the USA.
Stayed tuned for the next "my town series" - I will try and find something less lofty!!