The design

Closer Look – Australia's Parliament House [PDF 2.02Mb, 14 pages]

Fast facts

  • 90% Australian building materials
  • 300 000 amount of concrete in cubic metres used in Parliament House
  • 25 Sydney Opera Houses could be built using the same amount of concrete
  • 24 000 tonnes of steel reinforcing used in the building
  • ½ the Sydney Harbour Bridge could be built using the same amount of steel
  • 460 length in metres of each of the curved walls
  • 24 000 granite slabs cover the curved walls—placed end to end would extend over 46 kilometres

The design is based on two huge curved walls, each 460 metres in length, which separate Parliament House into four main zones:

  • the House of Representatives chamber and offices on the eastern side
  • the Senate chamber and offices on the western side
  • a central zone which includes ceremonial and public spaces
  • the executive government wing on the southern end of the structure.

The incorporation of the building into the landscape is a key element of the design. It is consistent with Walter Burley Griffin's vision for Canberra, which integrated the built and natural environment. Architect Romaldo Giurgola observed that Parliament House:

'... could not be built on top of the hill as this would symbolise government imposed upon the people. The building should nest with the hill, symbolically rise out of the Australian landscape, as true democracy rises from the state of things'.

One million cubic metres of earth and rock were removed from the site to make way for the building. The central zone of Parliament House was then built into Capital Hill. It was placed within the two curved walls and covered over with grass to recreate the shape of the hill.

Parliament House floor plan

Parliament House floor plan