Planning and Developing Residential Areas Over Time

Canberra is an ideal planned city, however alterations are having to be made to cater for the 21st century. As the population continues to increase in the capital so does the demand for residential space, educational services and shopping facilities. Planners are having to adapt to this changing environment, altering Griffins original plan to provide the residents with what they want. Residential areas have always been consciously planned to meet the requirements of the community. In this day and age there is now a huge emphasis on creating sustainable and environmentally friendly communities. In many ways Canberra is a huge ‘urban experiment’ where each suburb stresses different residential requirements.

Australia’s national capital was created as a result of an arrangement between the six states when they decided to federate in 1900. In 1908 the Commonwealth Parliament decided that the new capital should be built in the Yass-Canberra district. The area only consisted of 900 square miles and was easily accessible from the sea. A topographic survey was then conducted by Charles Robert Scrivener. He described the land as 900 square miles of unutilized, undeveloped farm and grazing land. An international competition was then created to attract designers to plan the city. Walter Burley Griffin was awarded first prize in 1912. His vision was to create a habitable ‘second nature – one that drew reference from its natural setting’ (Vernon, 2002). In 1913 the first peg marking the main axis of the design was hit into the ground and the city was named Canberra. 

1958 – The center of Canberra, 6 years before filling Lake Burley Griffin. 

Source: Canberra yesterday, today and tomorrow
This Video talks about Griffins original Plan. It summarises points made in the previous paragraph.

Source - Griffin Society (Youtube)

In 1958 the National Capital Development Commission was established with the aim to “plan, develop and construct Canberra as Australia's National Capital.” (Canberra yesterday, today and tomorrow) By 1958 the population in Canberra was 39,000. This increase to over 75,000 people by 1964 which was envisioned to be the “maximum” in the original design by Walter Burley Griffin. Conditions then increased to over 100,000 three years later. Currently the population is sitting around 374,245 and it is predicted this could jump to 390,000 by 2032. By 2038 the population of the Australian Capital Territory is expected to exceed Tasmania. These predictions are based on assumptions of fertility, the migration rate and life expectancy, which are based on the current population trends.

This graph shows the population prediction for Canberra. It also demonstrated how quickly the population increased and how quickly it escalated Walter Burley Griffins original plan.

Source: Canberra Times - Canberra population growth boom predicted – ACT AT 2003

The Commission recognized in 1966 that the population would quickly exceed the maximum number of people Canberra was designed for. To address this issue they had studies conducted to establish the structure for metropolitan growth in the capital. They concluded that the most effective framework would be to extend Canberra in new towns of 100,000 or more residents. These new towns would be separated from inner Canberra by ridges, hills and areas of open country. In doing so they intended the new towns to have individual character but each to be highly integrated into the main inner city framework. It is hoped that this planning concept would be able to handle the continuous population growth and increased traffic. It was also intended that these “outer towns” would be constructed around a business district. This in turn would provide sub-centered employment which would mean people wouldn't have to travel long distances to get to work. This time saving solution would provide people with more leisure time and create a happier communities.

Development at Woden, the first new town, began in 1962. It was located south-west of Canberra and was designed to provide for about 90,000 people. It is largely a residential development. Today, Woden consists of about 35,000 people and has its own shopping center, employment opportunities and twelve suburbs scattered around the Woden town center. The second town developed was Belconnen. It was designed to be a medium density estate and cater for roughly 120,000 people.

Each new town is designed to provide attractive and convenient commercial, shopping, industrial and recreational facilities for its residents. However, Canberra’s commercial center “Civic” is intended to be the main commercial center. To accommodate this freeways have been constructed creating a spider web network linking all the centers to each other and the City Center.

Molonglo Valley is Canberra's newest region. It is located roughly 10km south west of the CBD between Weston Creek and Belconnen. The development in the area is expected to take a number of years and is expected to contain several new suburbs. The region will include parks, schools, green spaces, local shops and is visioned to connect the community to the location. People living in the area will have easy access to fasilities such as: “the Molonglo River, the National Arboretum Canberra, the National Zoo and Aquarium and Stromlo Forest Park.” ( Link) Molonglo Valley is expected to support approximately 55,000 new residents over the next 30 years. The region aims to provide medium density residential space which an alternative to Canberra’s low density city center. 

This Video provided by Land Dev Canberra provides a 3d Map Fly-through of Molonglo Valley.

Source: Land Dev Canberra (Youtube)

Canberra has always been a well-planned city. Although Walter Burley Griffins original plan is now dated planners are continuing to build on his vision to make Canberra into the ‘ideal city’ it was intended to be. Outer suburbs are being created to accommodate for the booming population and to provide for different residential needs. For example different density accommodation. Each Suburb is designed to be its own community with each containing facilities, employment and parks and recreational space. In many ways Canberra is a model which should be adapted to the cities of the future. Canberra is a city, which is well planned and offers a pleasant community vibe in which is present today but also provides an attractive reality for tomorrow.


ACT Government - Molonglo Valley 

Canberra Times - Canberra population growth boom predicted

Canberra yesterday, today and tomorrow - Overall, John Sir, 1913