Canberra: a sheep in wolf’s clothing


Canberra, the capital of the Commonwealth of Australia, was built as a symbol of a new nation. The city’s symbolism is dominated by an optic axis, provided by the masterplan of Walter Burley Griffin. The dominant message of the objects at the poles of this axis, the Parliament House and the War Memorial, is nationalism. The Parliament House brings the nation together at one point and the War Memorial specifies that the Australian national is tough, resourceful, and comradely. By its reference to heroic deeds in wartime, the War Memorial gives a belligerent message in an otherwise peaceful landscape. Women and spiritual religions are conspicuously absent from Canberra. There is a remarkable tolerance towards other nations leaving their symbolic footprint in Canberra.