Thursday, May 27, 2010

Walk to Work: Parliament from the playground

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
Otto von Bismarck

The Parliament House site covers 32 hectares of Capital Hill; one of the hills around which Walter Burley Griffin designed Canberra in 1912. The building occupies 15 percent of this site.
  • The building is 300 metres long and 300 metres wide. It is one of the largest buildings in the southern hemisphere.
  • Parliament House was built to last at least 200 years.
  • There are 8,340 spaces in the building including about 4,700 rooms and 2,700 clocks.
  • Australian materials are used throughout 90 percent of the building.
  • The building cost approximately 1.1 billion dollars.
  • The underground car parks hold up to 2,000 cars.
  • A multi-channel television and radio station broadcasts proceedings of the Parliament from both chambers and committee rooms.
  • The building has two libraries; one a reading library, the other a research library for the benefit of answering questions on most topics from members and senators.
Jeepers, most days we just think of it as a radical sculptural backdrop to the playground, echo-ing the bare branches of the winter trees. A spindly, space-age launch pad, an inverted umbrella frame, a Hills Hoist in a storm.
I do hope we get our 200 years worth out of it.
This is another view from my morning gambol to work. It's quite amazing to think the seat of power buried beneath a mound of grass, encircled by bitumen, with a large flagpole stuck on top. Residents just go round it.  I rarely cross its threshold - I don't like the whiff of Ministerial leather and the marmoreal chill of the place.  Thankfully, I can telecommute there if necessary without having to have my bags and person scanned.  Much better to appreciate it from the playground.


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