Page 3863 - Week 12 - Thursday, 24 October 2013

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interchange and rapid bus lanes, and especially the Lake Ginninderra foreshore, including the parks, the best skate park in the southern hemisphere, the new wetlands, and developments along Emu Bank.

At Emu Bank we have already brought the city to the lake. It is lined with eateries, outdoor tables and parks where people can enjoy the vista of Lake Ginninderra. But the jewel in the crown at Emu Bank is the Belconnen Arts Centre stage 1, completed in 2009. It is the result of collaboration between arts groups, the Belconnen Community Service, committed individuals and the ACT government to bring a dedicated multipurpose arts venue to Lake Ginninderra.

In its first full year of operation the centre attracted 28,000 visitors. Two years later it attracted 40,000. It is in high demand; its dance studio is almost at capacity and its indoor gallery program is run over three separate spaces. It adds another creative dimension to Canberra’s largest and most dynamic town centre, and the arts centre is set to grow again to meet accelerating demand.

The government has invested $300,000 for the forward design of the next stage of Belconnen Arts Centre. New flexible performance and event areas, new studios and display spaces, a cafe and admin areas are all on the agenda. Flexibility, community and commercial uses, accessibility and long-term capacity are all major considerations.

I would like to argue for the new building to also be a landmark on Lake Ginninderra, reflecting the cultural and artistic aspirations of the Belconnen community and our Belco pride. The Belconnen Arts Centre already opens out onto the lake—in my opinion the only Canberra building to take such advantage of a waterside setting.

I commend the series of centennial events focused on architecture, including one this week at the Shine Dome sponsored by the ACT Chapter Australian Institute of Architects as part of the 100 plus 100 series, An essential place: a place of enduring qualities. It is described as “an invitation to discover and experience the city’s enduring qualities and, from that, shape our city over the next 100 years”. Canlab and the University of Canberra Faculty of Arts and Design have also actively promoted the importance of architecture in shaping our future.

I hope the next stage of the Belconnen Arts Centre might satisfy the practical needs for a new building but also that it might inspire and satisfy the soul in its architecture and be one of Canberra’s iconic buildings.

And what are Canberra’s greatest buildings? One-time Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck used to say it was Yarralumla woolshed. More recently, buildings such as the arboretum visitor centre, the Canberra Airport built by private enterprise, the John Curtin School at ANU or the National Portrait Gallery come to mind.

The Australian Institute of Architects National Register of Significant 20th Century Architecture includes New Parliament House, the High Court of Australia and National Gallery of Australia precinct, the Shine Dome, and the Cameron Offices, the only one in Belconnen.

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