THE GRIFFIN PLAN
On 11th April 1911, the Australian Government called on landscape architects to participate in a competition focusing on the production of a landscape architectural design for a new capital city, Canberra. One of the participants was an American landscape architect named Walter Burley Griffin. He came up with a landscape architectural plan that depicted a very clear understanding of the city and he went on produced the winning design which bore some very impressive set of renderings and hence won the competition. Griffin's winning design was chosen and adopted in May 1912 out of 137 entries. The significant press coverage at the time gave him professional, and public recognition and the academia adopted the plan in what is today known as the “Griffin plan.' He declared that the city he planned was not like any other in the world, and he hoped that the governments around the world would take up the design. He admitted that what he came up with in his design was ‘not in a way that I expected any government authorities in the world would accept as a model for a future city’ (Bacon, 1968). This review takes a keen look at what various contributors from the academia say about Griffin’s plan for Canberra.
Canberra as a Statement of World Culture
Edmund Bacon referred to the Griffin Plan as ‘a statement of world culture’. Bacon (1968) analyzes the Griffin plan in his book Canberra as a statement of World Culture and goes to great lengths to explain how this plan adjusts itself to the global trends of urban planning and industrial age. Bacon seems to support Griffin’s view that architects should not just aspire to be within some particular school of thought. Instead, according to (Bacon, 1968), architects must always look towards outgrowing the environment and the existing global trends, in their creative designs. Here, Bacon defines urban planning as a task that plays a very important role when shaping a city and therefore any city architectural plan must always be crafted towards the dynamics of the residents’ culture and its unique specific landscape. For this, he agrees that the Griffin plan was indeed a futuristic blueprint because it took into account these two vital aspects.
Nevertheless, Bacon asserts that the Griffin plan is not just a statement of the local culture, but of world culture. In support of this statement, he says that the plan took into account the global trends that were to define the modern cities, a century after the conception of the Griffin Plan. John Griffin knew that these cities would grow or change in ways that would be uncontrollable because of the population, social, economic and environmental trigger factors. That way, Bacon sees the plan as too forward thinking due to its global scope and applicability. In his closing observation, Bacon asserts that the Griffin plan for Canberra is ‘one of the greatest creations of man’ (Bacon, 1968); not only from an architectural sense but in a more encompassing …