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High Court - National Gallery Precinct, Parkes Pl, Parkes, ACT, Australia

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List National Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (23/11/2007)
Place ID 105745
Place File No 8/01/000/0533
Summary Statement of Significance
The High Court - National Gallery Precinct is significant for its design achievement as a group of late twentieth century public buildings and landscape which were conceived as a single entity, to create a venue for these important national civic institutions. The complex is stylistically integrated in terms of architectural forms and finishes, and as an ensemble of freestanding buildings in a cohesive landscape setting with a clear Australian identity. The building contributes to the development of the Parliamentary Zone, as the home for national institutions.

As a unit of buildings, terraces, gardens, courts, paving, sculptures and water features, the Precinct successfully relates to Lake Burley Griffin, and addresses the Parliamentary Zone, giving a contemporary expression to W B Griffin's vision for a grand panorama of public buildings reflected on the waters of the lake. The Precinct has a united profile and is a dominant feature on the lake edge of the Parliamentary Zone. The precinct reflects the nation's vision at the time; one of optimism, vitality, and creativity linked to nation building and egalitarianism.

The High Court is important as the home of an essential component of the Australian Constitution, as the setting for landmark legal cases and as the focus and pinnacle of the justice system in Australia. The High Court reflects the early concept in the Walter Burley Griffin plan for Canberra, for Australia's highest judicial system to be in the Parliamentary Zone yet separate from Parliament.

The High Court Building has outstanding associative Indigenous heritage value as the place where the Mabo judgment was made. This judgment recognised Indigenous common law rights to land and provided, together with the subsequent Wik judgement, a basis on which a system of native title could be created.

The creation of the Gallery along with the Sculpture garden represents the culmination of a long held desire that the Commonwealth should play a substantial role in the collection and presentation of art, especially Australian art for and to the nation. The Australian community holds the National Gallery and Sculpture Garden in high esteem as the home of the national art collection and a major venue for the presentation of national and international art exhibitions. The Sculpture Garden is much used and valued by the community as an outdoor art gallery and as a freely accessible public area used by visitors and local people for musical, theatrical and other cultural and social events.

The geometry of the expanding equilateral triangular design theme employed inside the Gallery and extending through the Sculpture Garden is a rare expression of multi-dimensional architectural geometry utilising the plastic capabilities of structural concrete. The triangular theme influenced by the location of the Gallery in the triangular corner of the Parliamentary Zone is reflected in the shapes and angles of the Gallery structure, the circulation through the Gallery and the Sculpture Garden and the layout of paths and some paved areas in the Precinct.

Official Values
Criterion A Events, Processes
The High Court - National Gallery Precinct (the Precinct) demonstrates the development of the Parliamentary Zone as the home for national institutions during a period in Australian cultural history when a search for national identity was stimulated by rapidly evolving political and social environment. The values of the Precinct are predominantly expressed in the major features of the High Court, its Forecourt, Ceremonial Ramp and Cascade, as well as the relationship between the High Court and the National Gallery, and the Sculpture Garden with its water features. 

The High Court is the highest court in Australia. It forms an essential element in the balance of power among the executive, houses of parliament and the courts. The building is not only the site for landmark legal cases and the focus and pinnacle of the justice system in Australia, its siting and setting reinforce the Court’s constitutional importance and power, as well as its relationship to, but independence from the other arms of democratic government. Its design was influenced by its first presiding Chief Justice, Sir Garfield Barwick.

The High Court Building has outstanding associative Indigenous heritage value because it is the place where the Mabo and Wik judgements were made. Sir Anthony Mason was Chief Justice for the Mabo case and Sir Gerald Brennan was Chief Justice for the Wik Case. The judgements recognised Indigenous common law rights to land and provided the basis for the recognition of native title.

The creation of the National Gallery and the Sculpture Garden demonstrated growing confidence in a sense of nationhood reflected through a role for the national government and capital in the creating and presenting of major collections important to the nation. 

Criterion D Principal characteristics of a class of places
The High Court - National Gallery Precinct is a rare example of an integrated design employing modernist building and landscape architecture on a scale and of a fineness of finish designed to project a sense of national importance. The precinct architecture is the work of the firm Edwards, Madigan Torzillo & Briggs.  Colin Madigan designed the National Gallery and Christopher Kringas designed the High Court.

The High Court and National Gallery buildings are excellent examples of the Late Twentieth Century Brutalist style, demonstrating boldly composed shapes and massing.
 
The landscape design by Harry Howard, predominantly reflects the Australian Native design style that developed in Australian in the late 1960s, inspired by a distinctively Australian landscape character.

Criterion E Aesthetic characteristics
The Precinct provides a significant array of aesthetic experiences derived from the patterns of the architectural masses, rough textures of the off-form concrete architectural elements, the vast spaces of the building foyers, the varied levels of the buildings, the varied internal spaces, the patterns of the external columns and tower elements, and, within the landscape surrounds, the vistas, the water features, terraces, sculptures and the intimate garden areas.
 
The High Court has aesthetic importance for its grand monumental presence, projecting and recessing concrete shapes, the awe-inspiring spacious qualities of the Public Hall and the contrasting but strongly expressed elevations.

The High Court has a symbolic prominence in its physical separation from Parliament. It also has visual landmark prominence in the important landscape setting of the Parliamentary Zone particularly when viewed from across the lake.

The Sculpture Garden is important for the great richness of features and visual beauty resulting from the combination of sculptures of high artistic merit and a highly creative garden design using predominantly local native species.  In addition, the off-white colour of the concrete masses, enhanced by predominantly cool hues of the selected native vegetation and slate paving. The sharp forms and hard texture of concrete features, create a dynamic with the informal shapes and textures of the garden spaces, a quality that is particularly emphasised at the marsh pond where the flat planes of the concrete platform and footbridge appear to float over the surface of the marsh pond. The ephemeral aesthetic qualities of the water features, particularly the Fog Sculpture, and the beauty of the gardens and landscape areas are greatly enjoyed by the community.

Criterion F Creative or technical achievement
The High Court - National Gallery Precinct is important for its design achievement. The Precinct is an integrated complex of buildings, gardens, landscaping, water features and architectural elements which create a setting for the national art and sculpture collection as well as venue for important national functions. The complex is stylistically integrated in terms of architectural forms and finishes, and as an ensemble of freestanding buildings linked by a footbridge in a cohesive landscape setting.
 
The High Court of Australia is an imposing civic building which incorporates the significant design features of the ceremonial ramp, the forecourt, the courtrooms, the emblematic designs on fittings and the Public Hall. The highly prominent ceremonial ramp with its integral water cascade is a design feature that symbolically invites public access to the High Court and links to the National Gallery entrance. The high profile of the building in the precinct and Parliamentary Triangle is also an important design feature that emphasises the separation of the Judiciary from Parliament and the role of the High Court as the intermediary between the government and the people.
 
An innovative design feature of the Precinct is the extension of the underpinning triangular geometry of the spatial layout of the National Gallery projecting into the surrounding landscape, particularly in the Sculpture Garden and High Court Forecourt, expressed in path layout patterns, paving patterns, the angled siting of the Flugelman Sculpture and the water patterns of the High Court cascade. The triangular shape is further expressed in structural columns and beam patterns of the Gallery as in numerous small elements. 
 
A key design feature for the Sculpture Garden is the integration of the sculptures with the garden by the use of partially enclosed display spaces, long sight lines and water features. A further design feature is the subtle division of the garden into seasonal areas to reflect flowering in the spring and winter gardens, and a cool ambience with water in the summer garden . The Fiona Hall Fern Garden is an individual creative work.

The Precinct is important for the artistry and craftsmanship of the water features of the marsh pond with its cascade and the adjacent Fujiko Nakaya Fog Sculpture, the reflecting pool with the Lachaise  Floating Figure, and High Court Ceremonial Ramp Cascade.

The innovative design excellence arising from the high quality integrated concrete structures and spaces composition combined with the craft based approach to concrete construction, is expressed throughout the precinct with the exception of the 1997 Gallery wing.

Criterion G Social value
As the focus and the pinnacle of the justice system in Australia, the High Court has critical importance to each and every Australian.

Description
The High Court – National Gallery Precinct includes the High Court, its Forecourt, Ceremonial Ramp and Cascade, the High Court prototype building and area, the Address Court, the roof garden, the footbridge across the Address Court, the National Gallery, the underground carpark and the Sculpture Garden. The precinct also includes the woodland, parkland and grassland landscapes and related landscape features within the Precinct, including the original street and path lightning, the perimeter plantings and spaces near the land axis space, lake edge and roadsides as the curtilage and setting of the heritage complex.
 
The High Court of Australia
The High Court and surrounds includes the location of the building within the Parliamentary Zone, the High Court building, its Forecourt, Ceremonial Ramp and Cascade, the High Court prototype building and area, the roof garden, the footbridge across the Address Court, original street and path lightning, the perimeter plantings and spaces near the land axis space.
 
The High Court of Australia building is arranged on eleven floor levels and rises some 41 metres. It houses three main courtrooms, Justices' chambers with associated library and staff facilities, administrative offices and public areas including a cafeteria. The design style employed was based on the philosophy of a building's form following function, now known as Late Twentieth-Century Brutalist style.
 
The overall monolithic form of the building resembles a cube, with internal functions expressed by the façade, and large areas of glazing supported by tubular steel frame structural supports. The administrative offices to the east, and the vast south glass wall both provide the building form with two restrained elevations, while the north and west elevations are fragmented, as internal functions push out or recede into the form.
 
Most of the external and internal walls created by the 18,400 cubic metres of concrete used in the construction have been subjected to a process known as "bush hammering", achieved by constructing the walls using formwork and hammering the concrete when the form work is removed to expose the aggregate within the concrete.
 
The internal floor area of the building is approximately 18,515 square metres. The building itself covers 0.32 hectares (0.8 acres) and is surrounded by nearly 1 hectare (2.5 acres) of quarry tiles (High Court, 2005)
 
The glazed areas total some 4,000 square metres and these are mainly on the northern and southern faces of the building. The use of steel frame supports for the glazed areas has permitted for generous expansion allowances to cope with Canberra's relatively wide temperature range. A system was devised so that the glass in the walls can "creep" up or down according to the temperature changes and any movement in the concrete structure.
 
The Public Hall serves as the grand entrance foyer and central circulation space of the building. It is conceived as a semi-external space, providing cover to the communication systems, ramps, stairs and lifts, taking the visitor to the galleries, platforms and ante-rooms preceding the working areas, and to the more enclosed spaces of the courts. It extends through eight levels of the building to a height of 24 metres and is the central point of reference for the public areas of the building. The ceiling waffle slab is dramatically supported by two round, centrally located pillars.
 
Overall, the sequence of spaces off the central area provides a natural vertical progression through the building from public spaces served by ramps and stairs on the lower level, to more private facilities served by lifts and stairs on the higher levels (EMTB et al 1980). The main ceremonial court opens off this space and an imposing ramp leads to courts on the second level. The three courtrooms are all entered on different levels and arranged in plan around the single circulation core of lifts and stairs. The Justices' circulation system is strictly segregated from the public circulation and travels from the underground carpark, through the intermediate courtroom levels, to the Justice Chambers and library at the upper level. The library and judges' rooms cap the building and general administrative offices flank the building on the eastern side. The restaurant overlooks the lake (Taylor 1990).
 
The building contains three courtrooms of different size which are used for different purposes. Courtroom 1 is the building's focal point; it is used on all ceremonial occasions and for all cases where a full bench of the seven Justices of the Court is required to sit. The room measures 17.5 metres from floor to ceiling and has two levels of public gallery. The wall panelling is finished in red tulip oak timber from Queensland and New South Wales, as is the furniture in the gallery (High Court of Australia, 2005).
 
The long curved bench and bar table are made of jarrah timber from Western Australia. Aurisina marble has been used on the floor as well as the face of the bench. Blackwood panels have been used in the ceiling of the room. The doors of Courtroom No. 1 feature a silvered bronze grid partly recessed and fixed into the laminated plate glass. The theme of the design is a shield, emphasising the Court's function as a protector of the Constitution and the liberties of the citizen. The door handles continue the emblematic design (High Court of Australia, 2005).
 
Courtroom 2 is described as the "Working Courtroom", as it is the venue for the majority of hearings. It is mostly used in cases where a full court of fewer than seven Justices is sitting. It has similar wall panelling and fittings to No. 1 Courtroom, although the ceiling is of painted moulded plywood (High Court of Australia, 2005). 
 
Courtroom 3 has been designed for cases which will be dealt with generally by a single Justice and is the smallest of the three courtrooms. It has a jury box so that a trial can be conducted on the rare occasions that such a case comes before the High Court. The Courtroom has been furnished with coachwood timber with a ceiling mainly of glass which provides a high level of natural lighting (High Court of Australia, 2005).

A number of specially commissioned art works complement the public hall as applied works or are integrated into the building's detailing. Included is a water feature in the forecourt designed by Robert Woodward, murals by Jan Senbergs forming an integral part of the public hall, doors at entry to Court 1 designed by Les Kossatz and George Baldessin and a wax mural by B. Maddock in the public hall outside Courtroom 1 (Buchanan, 2001).

Careful attention has been paid to detailing and the use of controlled natural light in the courtrooms. Internal finishes are rich yet restrained. Flooring is aurisina stone, Pirelli rubber or carpet. Wall finishes are concrete, plaster or timber panelling. Ceilings are plywood panelling, timber battened, plaster or concrete.
 
High Court Forecourt and Ceremonial Ramp
The forecourt and ceremonial ramp, including the Waterfall by Robert Woodward, were designed as the formal arrival and gathering space for the High Court. The Forecourt was designed to create a link to the proposed elevated National Place to the west, and to provide a space for large public ceremonies. The western part of the forecourt was created after the proposed National Place was abandoned. The Waterfall is a long rectangular fountain with alternating cascades and pools - its tessellated surface was inspired by columnar basalt formations and is made of Imperial black granite from South Australia. A carpark under the forecourt services the High Court. A car park, installed at a later date to the east of the ceremonial ramp, is for public use (Buchanan, 2001).

High Court Prototype Area
This sitting space on the southwest corner of the High Court utilised the prototype or test sample components produced prior to construction of the building. A stepped wall gives access to the area and the concrete pergola is similar in design to that documented for the unfinished restaurant in the Sculpture Garden. The angled blades of the pergola were used to house one of four sets of floodlights for the High Court. The prototype Waterfall was considered a safety hazard and was removed in 1999 (Buchanan, 2001).

High Court Roof Garden
A roof garden on the top floor of the High Court was designed for the Justices' private use. A pyramid sculpture, tubbed shrubs, and off-white sloping concrete walls provide a secluded sitting space for contemplation (Buchanan, 2001). The former raised beds were removed in 1999 due to moisture leakage.

The Address Court
The Address Court is a large rectangular area between the High Court and National Gallery. It includes several main elements:
1. An axial footbridge, which provides direct access between the two buildings at first floor level. The footbridge visually connects the Precinct with the National Library and anticipates the National Place, originally planned for the Land Axis.
2. Angled concrete paths and a gravel sitting/gathering area at ground level.
3. Access to The Gallery’s underground carpark, providing direct access to the Sculpture Garden. Plantings on the roof of the carpark were designed to blend in with the rest of the landscape.
4. Mature plantings of native trees and shrubs (mostly of local provenance), which not only act as a foil for the two buildings and provide a strong visual setting for the adjacent Sculpture Garden, but have a significant effect on the microclimate of the Precinct. Visitors walking across the footbridge at first floor level are enclosed and sheltered by the canopy of these trees (Buchanan, 2001).

The Bridge
The National Gallery building is linked to the High Court building to the west, by a large elevated concrete bridge. The bridge is constructed of off-form concrete and pre-cast concrete elements (Pearson et al, 2004).
 
The National Gallery of Australia
The National Gallery is a complex building of varied levels and spaces arranged on four floors of approximately 23,000 square metres. The character and proportion of the galleries vary. They are arranged on the lower three levels and are in a spiral circulation pattern related in such a way to provide rest points and sudden visual release points. The ground level, initially used for sculpture, now has varied uses. The first floor level is for introductory galleries and exhibitions with a monumental scale and the third level is for Australian collections. The top floor houses a series of private areas for offices, storage and a range of services related to the collection. In addition the building houses a restaurant, bookshop, theatrette and a series of private areas for offices, storage and a range of services related to the collection.

The building demonstrates an imposing and vigorous use of off-white in-situ reinforced concrete, used in the triangulated space frame ceilings, also referred to as the 'triagrid system'. The triagrid ceiling-floor system is used to create a complex structural and spatial order departing from orthogonal planning and the route through the galleries is unexpected and complex (RAIA, 1993). The underlying geometry of the Gallery building design provides a stability of form for the changeable display spaces.
 
Another feature is the bush-hammered off-form concrete walls. Except for the parquetry floors of the upper galleries, all other gallery floors are paved in brown tiles, set out in the triangulated pattern employed elsewhere in the building. The same tile paving extends out over the footbridge to the forecourt of the High Court. Pirelli rubber is used on internal ramps (RAIA, 1993). The lower level is paved in grey slate which extends out into the Sculpture Garden. The foyer of the 1997 extension is tiled with grey tiles. A service courtyard on the southern side of the building provides access to two loading docks.

The entrance to the building was designed on two levels, a first floor level from the footbridge linked to the High Court, and the lower level from the proposed one-way road system which was later abandoned. The raised entry levels to both the High Court and National Gallery were built in response to the 1971 Parliamentary Triangle plan for a raised National Place on the Land Axis.

Andrew Andersons designed a new wing used for temporary exhibitions, constructed in 1997 of concrete panels with some use of granite cladding. The new extension included a courtyard garden sculpture designed and established by the artist Fiona Hall. The Gallery was altered from its original structure to include re-roofing with a metal deck; the creation of storage space under the new roof; some galleries have been subdivided; to create new galleries; some wall surfaces have been changed or re-clad; and the bookshop extended.
 
The Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden creates an identifiably Australian garden for the display of sculpture in a comfortable and inviting landscape to encourage visitors and locals to explore and linger outside the Gallery. The garden repeats the patterns and form introduced by architecture, allowing for works of art to be experienced in discrete intimate spaces. Each has a discrete setting and visitors are guided through a sequence of outdoor rooms, including platforms chiselled into the large earth berm on the eastern side of the Sculpture Garden. The strong underlying geometry was used to set out paths, sculptures and circulation pattern. This is offset by the informal native planting which add additional aesthetic experience by providing the Sculpture Garden a sense of volume, enclosure, light, shadows, movement, change over time as well as birds and perfume (Buchanan, 2001).

The Sculpture Garden design divided the area into four gardens which expressed the seasons through flowering. The Winter Garden was to be planted with predominantly winter-flowering native species, the Spring Garden with spring-flowering native species etc. with the idea that outdoor exhibitions could be staged at various times of the year.

The Winter Garden area covers the forecourt closest to the National Gallery entrance which is a sheltered, sunny garden paved with large rectangles of soft blue-grey slate from Mintaro, South Australia. Islands of planting within the paving direct visitors through the first part of the garden with the larger than life figurative sculptures such as 'The Burghers of Calais' by Auguste Rodin, the female nude 'La Montagne' 1937 by Aristide Maillol and 'The Floating Figure' 1927 by Gaston Lachaise, which hovers above a rectangular pool, bringing scale and humanity (Buchanan, 2001). Many Eucalyptus polyanthemos contribute to the structure and colour of the garden.

The Avenue extends from the Winter garden out to Lake Burley Griffin. Informal Cooma road pink gravel paved areas lead off from the slate-paved Avenue, inviting visitors to explore. 'Penelope by Emille-Antione Bourdelle gazes down the Avenue towards the lake, to the sides of the Avenue are abstract sculptures 'Ik Ook' by Mark Di Suvero, 'Cones' by Bert Flugelman, 'Number 751' by Robert Klippel and 'Virginia' by Clement Meadmore (Buchanan, 2001).

The Spring Garden lies between the lake and the Marsh Pond/Summer garden and includes the first five platforms and a lookout, built of Mt.Mugga bluestone. Based on the proportions of the Golden Mean, these five spaces are smaller and more intimate than those in the Autumn Garden which were intended for larger works. 'Temple Gate' by Inge King, 'Australia No.151' by Richard Stankiewicz and the 'Pukamani Burial Poles' by the Tiwi People are sited here (Buchanan, 2001).

The Summer Garden is centred on the secluded Marsh Pond with its dense stands of Casuarina cunninghamiana and fluid lines of water, gravel paving, and reeds, which contrast with the strong off-white concrete walls, paved terrace and angled footbridge. 'Hill Arches' by Henry Moore, the ethereal 'Fog Sculpture' by Fujiko Nakaya, 'On the Beach Again' by Robert Stackhouse, 'Group of Eight Bronzes' by Robert Klippel and 'Slit Gongs' from Vanuatu inhabit this garden. A temporary restaurant has been set up on the lower terrace of the Marsh Pond. At the time of construction of the Sculpture Garden a permanent outdoor restaurant was included as part of the plan, located on the large terrace on the next level, east of the Marsh Pond. A water feature by Robert Woodward, which links the Autumn Garden with the Marsh Pond, has been covered over on the lower terrace (Buchanan, 2001).

The Autumn Garden, above and south of the Marsh Pond, originally was designed to include five large outdoor rooms and a large rectangular pool with floating sculpture. Due to a lack of funds, only the earthworks, part of the water feature (by Robert Woodward) and tree plantings were completed. Although incomplete, the Autumn Garden was included in the listing on the Register of the National Estate for the Sculpture Garden in 1994. The existing gravel paths in this area were not part of the original design. 'To Do With Blue' by Tony Coleing, sited on top of the earth berm, is the only sculpture now existing in the Autumn Garden. Extensions to the eastern side of the building in 1996 resulted in two of the five platforms of the planned Autumn Garden being somewhat compromised (Buchanan, 2001).

An access road and a small car park have also been installed to service the restaurant. The planned kiosk and amphitheatre, between the Avenue and the underground carpark, have not been constructed. A small concrete building housing toilets is located to the north of the winter garden area, partially covered by the earthworks from the incomplete amphitheatre (Pearson et al, 2004). A former guardhouse forms part of the structure.

Perimeter Landscape
The landscape brief from the National Capital Development Commission required that the High Court, National Gallery and surrounding landscape become a single precinct in visual terms, with the High Court as the dominant element to be open to views from the lake (Buchanan, 2001). The precinct landscape provides the curtilage setting for the monumental buildings. Throughout the precinct landscape are structural landscape and utilitarian elements constructed in a manner so that they form an array of minor features. The precinct extends from the lake to King Edward Terrace and from west of the High Court to the road, the main approach being from King Edward Terrace. The carpark area south of the Gallery is not included in the heritage precinct.
 
Perimeter plantings along King Edward Terrace, Bowen Drive and the Land Axis help to provide a structural and visual framework to the Precinct. The brief required that planting to the lake edge must consist of Poplars and Willows in keeping with the lake edge treatment elsewhere (Buchanan, 2001). The Gleditsia triacanthos species in the Gallery's service yard were growing on the site in 1970 when Colin Madigan first inspected the site (Madigan, 2001).

The surface carpark to the south of the National Gallery, although not included in the heritage precinct, was constructed as part of the landscape contract. It was not part of the original design - the Sculpture Garden was originally intended to encircle the whole building (Buchanan, 2001). The sculpture ' Pears ' by George Baldessin provides a feature entrance to the car park area. Tree plantings in the carpark are now mature and have a significant impact on the appearance and microclimate of this part of the Precinct.

The management issue of the access to the Gallery entrance for the public approaching from the carpark and for the disabled, is recognised as a problem that the Gallery will be addressing in its proposed new entrance (2006).

Aesthetic Qualities
The High Court has visual and landmark prominence in the important landscape setting of the Parliamentary Zone. The main entrance to the building with the ceremonial ramp, water cascade and glass wall is imposing and monumental. The interior of the building evokes an aesthetic response of awe from the sublime space of the public foyer, and the diagonal aesthetic provided by the long sloping ramps passing through it.
 
The Gallery has aesthetic importance for its projecting and recessing off-form concrete shapes with clearly expressed off-white triangular concrete forms, expressed in the strong vertical elements of blades and columns particularly at the entrance portico, the restaurant stack and in the high shaft of the southern lift tower. The aesthetic value relates to the experience of moving through the array of spaces from the grand external entrance, to the array of internal spaces such as the cathedral-like space of the main gallery, the long ramps, smaller galleries and small spaces, along with challenging perspectives from the internal and external windows. Aesthetic quality is also derived from the play of light on the concrete forms that externally give a tough architectural expression and internally evoke a medieval castle-like image through the array of shapes and spaces.
 
In describing the aesthetic qualities experienced by visitors to the Gallery, Terence Measham (1982) refers to the array of illusions created by the spaces, forms and textures of the building: ‘Illusion is the key word. At a number of points in the building there are moveable walls which swing to reveal or conceal a whole gallery internal vista. There are internal windows through which you can spy on other visitors below and ones for them to spy back at you. And there are the forbidden spaces in the upper levels, which I call triforia and which beckon invitingly. These are architectural perspectives that reveal structure, passages, along which only one's gaze may travel. They give a curious sense of relativity as if wherever we go we are aware of a parallel world, empty, impenetrable and dangerous. The very texture of the fabric looks abrasive and the scale of some of the galleries is awesome. The building is always active, always expressive, always something to be reckoned with.’

The Sculpture Garden has complex aesthetic qualities of light, time and space, sound, form, textures, colour and birdlife, as well, its spaces display the sculptures in intimate settings, and provide vistas to the lake or within the garden. In addition, the off-white colour of the concrete masses, enhanced by predominantly cool hues of the selected native vegetation and slate paving, create a visually crisp and distinctive aesthetic quality. The sharp forms and hard texture of concrete features, create an aesthetic dynamic with the informal shapes and textures of the garden spaces, a quality that is particularly emphasised at the marsh pond where the flat planes of the concrete platform and footbridge appear to float over the surface of the marsh pond, contrasting with the naturalistic form of the pond and its surrounding vegetation. The ephemeral aesthetic qualities of the water features, particularly the Marsh Pond with the effects of the Fog Sculpture, and the unfolding complex sequence of spaces makes it an evocative place of serenity and happiness valued by artists, visitors and the Canberra community.
 
History
Establishment of the High Court
The High Court of Australia was established in 1901 by Section 71 of the Constitution but the appointment of the first Bench had to await the passage of the Judiciary Act in 1903. The first sitting of the High Court took place in the Banco Court of the Supreme Court building in Melbourne on 6 October 1903. The Bench comprised three people who had been prominent in the Federal movement. They were: the Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith; Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia; and Richard Edward O'Connor, a former Minister of Justice and Solicitor-General of New South Wales and the first Leader of the Government in the Senate.

The High Court quickly demonstrated its influence over the State Supreme Courts and showed that the Court was a necessary arm of the newly-created Commonwealth of Australia. The Court soon gained an international reputation for judicial excellence. Such was its success, the workload became too much for three Justices. In 1906, the Justices increased in their number to five but it wasn't until 1946 that, with the Great Depression and World War II over, the number of Justices was increased to seven and the Court has remained at seven Justices ever since.
 
In its early years, the High Court shared courtroom and registry facilities with State courts in Sydney and Melbourne. Separate facilities were eventually provided for the High Court in Sydney in 1923. In Melbourne, a special building for the Court was constructed and opened in 1928. The Principal Registry of the High Court was located in these Melbourne premises until 1973, when it was transferred to Sydney.
 
Establishment of the National Gallery
The Commonwealth Government began collecting national art treasures in 1911, comprising works of aesthetic and historic value. It established the Historic Memorials Committee, and in 1912, the Art Advisory Board to assist the Committee. Works were displayed in Parliament House after 1927, in other Commonwealth buildings and in Australian missions overseas, except for war paintings that were commissioned or collected by the Australian War Memorial (Pearson et al 2000).
 
Acquisitions continued throughout the following decades, with serious collecting of Australian art increasing in the late 1960s, followed by acquisitions of international art in the early 1970s. In 1967 Prime Minister Harold Holt announced that the government would build an Australian National Gallery in Canberra to house the National Collection (National Gallery of Australia, 2001). In 1966, the National Art Gallery Committee of Inquiry completed a design report, and the location of the Gallery was confirmed.
 
Development of the Parliamentary Zone
The Parliamentary Zone is the triangular shaped area of land fanning out from (new) Parliament House to Lake Burley Griffin. The area contains significant axes and vistas of Walter Burley Griffin's winning design for Australia's capital in 1912, including the avenues forming the Parliamentary Triangle, the Land Axis and the Water Axis (Department of Home Affairs 1913). The concept of the triangular space was to be the focus of government and administration with monumental buildings set in the landscape in the Beaux Arts style with grand vistas. The central land axis runs from Mount Ainslie to the distant Bimberi Peak in the south of the ACT. It is the section of the Land Axis, the vista of Mount Ainslie to Capital Hill that gave the City its central planning design focus with the southern point of the Parliamentary Triangle terminating at Capital Hill and the base of the triangle addressing the proposed lake. Running across the triangle were a series of terraces proposed to house government buildings.

The first buildings in the triangle during the 1920s were the Provisional Parliament House flanked by two Government Secretariat Buildings, East and West Block. They were all designed in a complementary neo-classical style, applied in early Canberra architecture, that became known as the Federal Capital style.

Formally arranged landscaping of trees and gardens were constructed around and in front of the Provisional Parliament House. The Depression of the 1930s and World War II halted development of the zone and in the post war years major Government buildings, the Administrative Block (now John Gorton Building) and the Treasury Building were constructed along with the central water feature.

In 1957 the Government established an authority, the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC), to direct planning and development of the Capital. Major architectural works were commissioned to independent architects, the first constructed was the 1968 National Library, by Bunning and Madden in association with T.E. O’Mahoney.
 
As part of this development of Canberra, in 1967 the government announced a limited competition to select an architect to design an Australian National Gallery to house the national collection (Taylor, 1990). Then Prime Minister John Gorton remarked, “It is very important that the design of the gallery should reflect the most modern thinking of the present day, that it should be particular to Australia, and be an expression of the national character”. The winner of the competition was the Sydney firm of Edwards, Madigan, Torzillo and Partners, with Colin Madigan the head of the design team (Taylor, 1990).
 
The originally proposed site for the Gallery was in the saddle between Capital Hill, and Camp Hill to the rear of the Provisional Parliament House. At that time the proposed new Parliament House was intended to be located on the lakeshore. By 1969, a new site on Capital Hill had been selected for the permanent Parliament House, which led to a re-appraisal of the site planned for the Gallery. In 1970 it was agreed to change the site for the Gallery to the northeastern corner of the Parliamentary Zone (Pearson et al, 2000).
 
In 1971, the chief architect of the NCDC, Roger Johnson, proposed a revised plan for the Parliamentary Zone placing a 16 ha (400x400m) square called the 'National Place' within the central lakeshore area. The National Place was to have a major underground car park to serve the new Parliament House, and surrounding cultural institutions including the future High Court and National Gallery. This was to be flanked by the National Library to the west and the High Court and National Gallery to the east, to create a strong axial link between the National Library and the National Gallery.

In 1972 a competition was held for the design of the High Court, which would be sited near the National Gallery. This was the first open design competition held in Canberra since the international competition for the plan of Canberra in 1912.
 
The conditions for the design were as follows:
‘The national functions of both the High Court and the Parliament are strongly related. In simple terms, the former interprets Federal law established by the latter.
The locating of both the High Court and the Parliament in proximity to one another in the Federal Capital has strong symbolic significance. Together they represent the basis of government and justice at the national level.
The High Court building, in one sense, is visually related to the Parliament but at the same time must be seen to stand separate from, and independent of, the Parliament. In its constitutional independence, its objectivity of deliberation and freedom from political influence, the High Court can be seen as a powerful influence within this relationship. An expression of both the unity of purpose and the independence of status is the essence of the physical symbolism that has been achieved.
In its siting and in its form, the High Court building imparts a sense of strength and security. The visitor is made to feel aware of the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the Australian judicial system.’ (High Court, 2005)

A total of 158 designs were submitted for the competition. The firm of Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs Pty Ltd, the same firm was designing the National Gallery, won the competition. Christopher Kringas was head of the High Court design team, while Colin Madigan was the head of the design team for the National Gallery. As the designs of the High Court and National Gallery were vested in the same firm, the opportunity for a consonance between them was high (Taylor 1990).
 
Kringas and Madigan's design style and use of extensive concrete were tested in the Warringah Shire Civic Centre and Administrative Offices at Dee Why, completed in 1973. Kringas worked on the details of the High Court design until his death on 27 March 1975. Construction began 1 month later.
 
Fluctuations in the political and economic climate delayed the beginning of the construction of the Gallery until 1973. The Gallery was 'moth-balled' for 18 months to finance the continuation of the High Court. In 1975 the NCDC abandoned the 1971 Roger Johnson plan for the National Place. This left the entry levels of the precinct 5 metres above the natural ground level and without the connection to the National Place, Parliament or the National Library.
 
The High Court commenced construction in 1975 and the Foundation Plaque to commemorate the commencement of construction was unveiled by the Prime Minister in September 1975.
 
The structural engineering for the project was by Miller Milston and Ferris (Engineers Pty Ltd), the mechanical and hydraulic engineering by Frank Taplin and Partners, the electrical and fire services engineering by Addicoat Hogarth Wilson Pty Ltd, the acoustic engineering by Peter R. Knowland and Associates, the quantity surveying by DR Lawson and Associates, and the contractor was PDC Construction ACT Pty. Miller Milston and Ferris gave particular attention to reduction of shrinkage through the use of specified low shrinkage concrete, through controlled placing sequence, and through planned jointing (EMTB et al 1980). The High Court was completed in 1980 at a total cost of $46.5 million.
 
The High Court, as the head of the Australian judicial system, required a monumental building, and its design was influenced by the Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Garfield Barwick, who had specific ideas about an appropriate image and the location of spaces within the building (Taylor, 1990). The main entrance and southern facing glass wall were proposed to give the High Court an address towards Parliament House to symbolise the relationship of Australia's judiciary and the legislative systems. Art works were commissioned for the interior as well as a sculptural cascading fountain as a feature on the ceremonial entrance ramp.
 
The High Court was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 26 May 1980 (High Court, 2005). The Court and its Principal Registry were immediately transferred to the new building and the first sitting in this location took place in June 1980. The High Court was awarded the Canberra Medallion by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 1980.
 
The High Court has been the setting for landmark legal cases including Koowarta (1982), Tasmanian Dams (1983), Coe (1983), Mabo (1992) and Wik Cases (1996).
 
The National Gallery concept was for a complicated building, located in the eastern corner of the Parliamentary Triangle. The exhibition galleries are of varying sizes and heights, arranged on four major levels to allow for the maximum amount of flexibility of display spaces (National Gallery of Austrlia, 2005). The structural spatial order was based on equilateral triangles. The requirements of the brief and the conceptual ideas were articulated in an open display of structure and structural materials.

The other aspect of the precinct is the landscaping. The firm Harry Howard and Associates was commissioned to undertake the land design with the principal design firm, Edwards Madigan Torzillo Briggs International Pty Ltd (EMTB). The design team for the landscaping consisted of the principal designers Colin Madigan (EMTB) and Harry Howard, along with Barbara Buchanan (Harry Howard and Associates), Roger Vidler (EMTB) and James Mollison (Gallery Director).
 
James Sweeney, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, was employed as a consultant. He proposed a plan based on a `spiral' progression of galleries, of contrasting sizes and heights, allowing the greatest flexibility in the arrangement of exhibitions. Sweeney emphasised that viewers should not be distracted from the works of art by outside views through windows - for example, the Sculpture Garden can generally be seen only from areas where works of art are not on display (National Gallery of Australia, 2001).
 
The Sculpture Garden's design continued the triangular geometry of the Gallery in its circulation pattern, spatial arrangement and concrete elements of bridges and terraces. The selection of local indigenous plants, although informally grouped, have a controlled aesthetic of foliage and colour enframing spaces for displaying the national sculpture collection, but would not visually compete with the sculptures.
 
The water feature of the Marsh Pond was designed by Robert Woodward. Harry Howard had worked with EMTB as an architect and understood the language of their architecture, yet was inspired by the Australian bush and the need to humanise and localise the landscape experience for visitors (Buchanan, 2001). The design consisted of Summer, Winter, Spring and Autumn gardens blending into each other.
 
In 1978 the change of plan by the NCDC from a one-way to a two-way road system along with the construction of a surface carpark to the south, meant that most visitors approached the Gallery from the rear of the building (comments by Madigan, AHC Workshop, 2001). The National Gallery was completed in 1982. Due to a lack of funds, the Autumn Garden, restaurant, kiosk and amphitheatre were not completed.

In the early 1990s, under the direction of the Gallery Director, Betty Churcher, subdivision of some galleries was undertaken with the insertion of mezzanine floors and changing or re-cladding wall surfaces, in order to create new galleries to suit the exhibitions. Other changes to the building included re-roofing with a metal deck and the office space under the new roof, and extension of the bookshop. A temporary restaurant appropriated the Marsh Pond terrace and, at a later date, an access road and small car-park to service the temporary restaurant were installed.

A new wing, designed by Andrew Andersons, was constructed in 1997 of concrete panels with some use of granite cladding. It is used for temporary exhibitions. The new extension included a courtyard garden sculpture designed and established by the artist Fiona Hall.
 
A sculpture hanging over the forecourt area, Globe, by New Zealand artist Neil Dawson, was destroyed during a storm in late 1998. In September 2002, another spherical sculpture by Neil Dawson, Diamonds on the Land, was installed in the same location.

The Canberra Medallion was awarded to the High Court in 1980 and the Australian National Gallery in 1982, by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. The buildings were further recognised by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects in 2001 in their listing of the two buildings for national significance.
 
Designers
Colin Madigan commenced formal studies in architecture in 1937 at Sydney Technical College. He served in the Navy from 1939 and after the war combined experience in the office of David King in building design for hospitals and factories with the college tutorage of Harry Foskett, Miles Dunphy and Jack Torzillo. In 1948 he and Jack Torzillo joined Maurice Edwards in partnership and gained much work from the Joint Coal Board. The firm remained small during the 1950s but worked towards a rationalist approach to design. The firm gained work from the Public Works Department and Madigan designed many schools, the NSW Tourist Bureau building and the Round House at the University of New South Wales.
 
By the early sixties Madigan, along with his partners was designing in the modernist style. After an influential trip to Europe in 1963 Madigan's work demonstrated more attention to the local context. The High Court, National Gallery and their precinct are the culmination of his achievements in public architecture (Taylor, 1982). In 1981, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects awarded Colin Madigan the Gold Medal, the Institute's highest accolade for lifetime efforts in the field of architecture.

Christopher Kringas was head of the team of architects working for Edwards, Madigan Trozillo and Briggs that won the design competition for the High Court.  Other team members were Feiko Bouman, Rod Lawrence and Michael Rolfe. Christopher Kringas worked with Colin Madigan on the prizewinning design for the Warringah Council's Civic Centre (Andrews 1980)
Harry Howard completed architecture studies at Sydney University and a diploma in town and country planning. As a student and throughout his career he was a convinced modernist. He worked for the modernist architect Sydney Ancher and for many years with Edward Madigan Torzillo. He had a love of native plants which he shared with his friends, the landscape architects Bruce Rickard and Bruce Mackenzie. He was part of a group of talented Sydney architects, landscape architects and designers that had studios at 7 Ridge Street, North Sydney. The expression of Australian design ideals held by the Ridge Street group is now referred to as the 'Sydney School'. In 1996 Howard received the Australian Award in Landscape Architecture, the highest accolade of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, for his life's work (Weirick, 2000).
Condition and Integrity
A Gallery condition audit by Bligh, Voller Neild in 1999 identified a number of shortcomings in the condition of the building and functional spaces. The National Gallery is in fair condition, and over its life has experienced problems with water leaks, failed glazing, condensation in winter and a lack of appropriate access for people with disabilities, the elderly and children (RNE, 2001).
 
While the Sculpture Gardens are generally in good condition, some general maintenance is required such as thinning and replacement of over mature plants and painting of outdoor furniture. The intended character of the Gardens has changed little, however a number of additions to the Gallery, including a restaurant, car parking and recent extensions to the Gallery has compromised the integrity of the Gardens' original design. The carpark and access road built behind the Henry Moore sculpture to service the temporary restaurant, is not part of the original design, brings cars into a pedestrian zone and is a visually intrusive backdrop to the sculpture (Buchanan, 2000). 

A number of miscellaneous items such as concrete paving, bins, signs and drains have been introduced over the years, particularly near the Marsh Pond that adversely affect the values of the garden. The enclosed marquee which houses the temporary restaurant blocks visitor circulation around the Marsh Pond and prevents visitors other than restaurant clientele, from using the lower terrace. The angled water channel (part of the Woodward water feature) has been covered over in the section that dissects the terrace next to the Marsh Pond (Buchanan, 2000). 

Much of the planting proposed in the original plan to emphasize the seasonal flowering concepts of the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn Gardens was never implemented and existing planting needs maintenance and the furniture in the Sculpture Garden has been allowed to deteriorate (Buchanan, 2000).

The condition of the High Court building is excellent. The building is well maintained and cared for (RNE, 2001).

Deteriorated furniture was replaced for the Gallery's 20th birthday.  The gravel has caused some scratches on the metal sculptures (CHL, 2004).
 
The High Court – National Gallery Precinct is in fair condition. The Marsh Pond leaks and requires repair and the carpark is in poor to fair condition (Pearson et al, 2004).
 
While the Sculpture Gardens are generally in good condition, some general maintenance is required such as thinning and replacement of over mature plants and painting of outdoor furniture. The intended character of the Gardens has changed little, however a number of additions to the Gallery, including a restaurant, car parking and recent extensions to the Gallery has compromised the integrity of the Gardens' original design. The carpark and access road built behind the Henry Moore sculpture to service the temporary restaurant, is not part of the original design, brings cars into a pedestrian zone and is a visually intrusive backdrop to the sculpture (Buchanan, 2000). 

A number of miscellaneous items such as concrete paving, bins, signs and drains have been introduced over the years, particularly near the Marsh Pond that adversely affect the values of the garden. The enclosed marquee which houses the temporary restaurant blocks visitor circulation around the Marsh Pond and prevents visitors other than restaurant clientele, from using the lower terrace. The angled water channel (part of the Woodward water feature) has been covered over in the section that dissects the terrace next to the Marsh Pond (Buchanan, 2000). 

Much of the planting proposed in the original plan to emphasize the seasonal flowering concepts of the Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn Gardens was never implemented and existing planting needs maintenance and the furniture in the Sculpture Garden has been allowed to deteriorate (Buchanan, 2000).
 
The condition of the High Court building is excellent. The building is well maintained and cared for (RNE, 2001).

Deteriorated furniture was replaced for the Gallery's 20th birthday.  The gravel has caused some scratches on the metal sculptures (CHL, 2004).
 
The High Court – National Gallery Precinct is in fair condition. The Marsh Pond leaks and requires repair and the carpark is in poor to fair condition (Pearson et al, 2004).
Location
About 16ha, Parkes Place and King Edward Terrace, Parkes, comprising the area bounded by the alignment of the north-western boundary of Blocks 6 and 8 Section 28, Parkes, the southern shore of Lake Burley Griffin, the northern side of Bowen Place and the eastern and southern boundary of Block 7 Section 29, Parkes, and the northern side of King Edward Terrace. Excluded is the National Gallery carpark, being that part of Block 7 Section 29 to the west of ACT Standard Grid 211583mE.
Bibliography
Andrews, R (1980) 'Descendant of carpenters led design of 'frugal' building'. The Canberra Times Vol 54.No.16,314.
Apperly, R, R Irving, P Reynolds (1989), Identifying Australian Architecture, Angus and Robinson, Sydney.
 
Architectural Review Australia (2001) National Gallery of Australia Then and Now. Essays by Gerard Reinmuth, Barbara Buchanan, John McDonald, Peter Tonkin and Richard Goodwin.
 
Australian Heritage Commission (1987) Register of the National Estate Database Place Report for the Sculpture Gardens, Australian National Gallery, copy printed 20/10/2000.

Australian Heritage Commission (2001) 'Proceedings of the High Court - National Gallery Heritage Assessments Stakeholder Workshop'. Unpublished report.
 
Bell, R. (2002) Crystal Clear: The Architecture of the National Gallery of Australia, Artonview, No. 32, Summer 2002-2003.
 
Bernstein, F., Restoring Lois Kahn’s “Undergraduate Project” at Yale. The New York Times,
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Department of Home Affairs (1913) The Federal Capital Report Explanatory of the Preliminary General Plan. Commonwealth of Australia.
 
Edwards Madigan Torzillo Briggs (EMTB) International and Harry Howard and Associates (1980) High Court of Australia: architects statement. Architecture Australia, July 1980, pp 41-52.
 
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Architectural Review Australia (2001) National Gallery of Australia: Then and Now. No. 76.
 
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Howard, H. (1982) Landscaping of the High Court of Australia and the Australian National Gallery - the Sculpture Gardens, Landscape Australia 3/82 August 1982, pp. 208-215.

Howard, H. and Buchanan, B. (1999) From Concept to Realisation - A Review of the Landscaping of the High Court of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia, unpublished report.
 
Madigan, C. (2001) Statement of Design Significance.

Manning, J. (1997) Sculpture Garden, published by the National Gallery of Australia, Education and Public Programs.

National Gallery of Australia (1993), A Guide to the Sculpture Garden (author unknown).
 
National Gallery of Australia, http://www.nga.gov.au/Home/Index.cfm [Accessed 17/01/05].
 
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Pearson, M., Butler, G. and Marshall, D. (2000) National Gallery of Australia - Preliminary Heritage Report.
 
Pearson, M., Burton, C. and Marshall, D. (2003) High Court of Australia and National Gallery Precinct Conservation Management Plan Exposure Draft.
 
Pearson, M., Butler, G., Burton, C. and Marshall, D. (2004) National Gallery of Australia: Including the Sculpture Garden Exposure Draft.
 
Peikalns, H. (2003) Art in landscape, in Pauline Green (Ed.) Building the Collection, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
 
Reid, P. (2002) Canberra Following Griffin: A Design History of Australia’s National Capital. National Library of Australia, Canberra.
 
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (1990) High Court of Australia. Citation for the Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.
 
Royal Australian Institute of Architects (1993) National Gallery of Australia. Citation for the Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.

Taylor, J. (1990) Australian Architecture since 1960. Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Red Hill, ACT.

Weirick, J (2000) Obituary: Harry Howard. Landscape Architecture 4-2000.
 
Vernon, C (2003) Looking back, going forward. Landscape Australia 2-2003.

Report Produced  Mon Sep 22 08:53:29 2014