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The 1901 Australian Federal Capital Congress

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National and international conferences were a vital force for advancing the theory and practice of modern town planning from the early twentieth century. A conference held in Melbourne, Australia, in May 1901 on the ‘Laying Out and Building of the Federal Capital’ represents one of the, if not the, first national meetings dealing with the topic of city planning in an Anglophone country. This paper explores the genesis, organization and impact of the event, with the major focus on the participants and discourse of their presentations. The paper introduces the debate about a new federal capital of Australia in the late nineteenth century before exploring the content and themes of individual contributions and the broader outcomes and significance of the event. What makes the little-examined 1901 Congress important is not so much its direct impact on the federal capital itself (Canberra, named 1913), but what light the congress papers and activities shed on the state of Australian knowledge of and assumptions about city planning as the global movement took shape.

Keywords: Australia; Canberra; development of town planning; national capitals; planning conferences

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Faculty of the Built Environment,University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia 2: Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning,University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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