Two respected Australian architects are outraged by plans to build a 2.6-metre high fence around the perimeter of Parliament House in Canberra.
Pritzker Prize Laureate, Glenn Murcutt and National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Ken Maher were quick and unanimous in voicing their outrage for the project, both adamant that a fence would betray the design intentions of the original architect.
“The erection of a 2.6-metre fence around Parliament's perimeter flies in the face of the design intent of the architect, the late Romaldo Giurgola, which has been widely lauded, including being awarded the 2013 National Enduring Architecture Award,” said Maher, channelling his distaste through the Institute’s media platform.
“The moral rights held in the building will be seriously compromised.”
“From an architectural point of view, I think it’s terrible,” said Murcutt, in an interview with Fairfax Media.
“Romaldo Giurgola designed this building so that you had very good access to the people – so it expressed freedom, it didn’t in any way express exclusivity. Putting a fence around it is putting a noose around it.”
The closing of Maher’s media release also touched on Giurgola’s democratic intentions and how the proposed fence would only taint them.
“The ability for the public to access the lawns was central to the concept of democracy underpinning the design,” he said.
“This proposed security upgrade is totally unnecessary and will not achieve the outcomes that they are seeking.”
The outcomes are all about security and safety for parliamentarians and the public, and in addition to the new fence it will also include a height-increase for the fence further up the hill and 38 extra CCTV cameras.
The new security measures were passed through parliament on 1 December and reportedly respond to warnings from security agencies that the national parliament is a high-value target for terrorists and remains dangerously vulnerable to attack.
The press has been denied access to digital imaging of the proposed new fences and checkpoints on security grounds.
Other architects who spoke to Fairfax Media on Thursday were universally scathing about the details that had been released.
Canberra architect Rodney Moss said Parliament House was falling victim to "security bracket creep". "To add layers and layers of security to the building will compromise the design intent that we all thought was so fantastic," he said.
"It becomes fortress Australia, which is the complete opposite to the way the building was envisaged."