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Old Parliament House


Old Parliament House

Old Parliament House served as the home of Federal Parliament until 1988 and opened in 1927. In Early years of Canberra the House was the communal, geographic and biased heart of the new Australian capital. As the time passed, this inspiring building became identical with few of the country's most important moments such as Australia's declaration of war in 1939 and the dismissal of Gough Whitlam's Labor Government in 1975.

During the 60's, Old Parliament House served as a working parliament which was the time of enormous change for Australia. Politically the country has been grown from an Imperial Dominion to a homeland in its own right. At that time, Old Parliament House was the theatre in which the politics of the day were played out and vital decisions made.

The connotation of Old Parliament House today fabricates in its historical and social value to the people of Australia. The House is a countrywide noteworthy 'museum of itself' and of Australia's political legacy-so, being a popular tourist destination, it is also a precious place which needs conservation.

The bequest of Old Parliament House does not just belong to the events that took place there, or in the names of the people who walked its lobbies. Its legacy also lies in the day to day business of government & parliament, the policies, the speeches, and the laws that affected all Australians. Every part of this construction tells a story.

Thousands of people passed through this edifice over the years, on their way to administer the country, inscribe the newspaper stories, cook the meals or direct the ministers. It is the collision of all of these people on the nation over the past 75 years that makes this construction an Australian icon. Over its 61 years the story of the construction, design, the opening, and the people who worked at the House help to explain the sense of history that people feel when they visit the building.

Old Parliament House is predicted as a nationally momentous cultural and heritage site. It is listed on: The Australian Heritage Commission's Register of the National Estate, the National Trust of Australia's Register of Classified Places, the Royal Australian Institute of Architect's Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture and the ACT Heritage Council's Interim ACT Heritage Place Register. As the building is important because of the events which occurred here, it is also significant in provisions of architectural values. John Smith Murdoch designed this house, the first Commonwealth Government architect. He was asked to design a 'temporary' building that would serve as a parliament for fifty years. In the 1920s and 1930s, Murdoch worked with the 'stripped classical' style, common in government buildings. It is decipherable in Murdoch's other Canberra buildings, including the Hotel Canberra (now Hyatt Hotel Canberra), Hotel Kurrajong and the East and West Blocks, which are the original government office buildings in Canberra.

The modest and functional building was Murdoch's provisional parliament building which was filled with natural light from windows, skylights and light wells. By the verandahs and colonnades, and strong horizontal lines, the building was not as some people expected a parliamentary building to be, and it attracted criticism from some architects at the time.

These days, thanks to John Smith Murdoch, Creator of Old Parliament House is one of the most recognizable buildings in Australia and is a considerable architectural achievement.