The ACT Government has given a glimpse of Canberra’s high-density future in its plans for the Northbourne Flats precinct in the city’s inner-north. A national competition will be launched today to find the architects to design the transformation of the much-maligned public housing complexes into a new and modern 800-dwelling neighbourhood.
The Northbourne Flats precinct has long been derided as an eyesore greeting visitors coming into the city from the north and Housing Minister Joy Burch said the winning design had to be one that would “turn it into a fitting gateway for the nation’s capital”. The plan is also seen as an opportunity to develop a prototype of the high-density residential neighbourhoods the Government wants to see on major transport corridors like Northbourne Avenue. The precinct consists of two sites, one in Turner of 23,350sqm and one in Braddon, on the other side of Northbourne Avenue, of 15,660sqm.
Prospective project architects will be able to design buildings up to 25m tall, observing a strict l0m setback from Northbourne Avenue. ‘The redevelopment should encourage a standard of urban design that is consistent with selected major avenues, approach routes and other strategically located areas,” the design specification reads.
The winning design will also have to preserve many of the precinct’s trees. Ms Burch said the competition winner would also have to consider the heritage values of the buildings, which were built in 1958 as government housing to accommodate the influx of public servants. “The redesign of these flats will take into consideration the heritage values of the buildings, as well as ensuring the new design incorporates environmental sustainability,” she said. “The ACT Government has already held consultations to discuss the heritage and architectural significance of the buildings and these will continue.”
National advertisements will be placed in coming days seeking expressions of interest from architectural firms. Those firms that register will be supplied with competition documentation and asked to submit their designs. A judging panel will be established with the announcement of the winning entry expected in October.
Ms Burch said, “I think it is fitting that as we approach the Centenary of Canberra, we take the opportunity to improve one of the key areas of the city, and take this once-in-a- generation opportunity to strategically allow for higher-density housing along Canberra’s main transport corridor. “Increasing the quantity of housing along our principal road corridors is critical to achieving a sustainable transport system for our city.”
By Noel Towell
Chief Assembly Reporter