Canberra: Ideal city, imagined city

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Canberra is now a century old, and locals are recovering from a year of centenary celebrations. One of the factors that emerged during this year was the gap between its two states of being: Canberra is both the national capit[al] - the head of the nation; and at the same time a community's hometown. The centenary celebrations also generated discussion about its history, and the process of its development from territory, through sheep paddock, to at once a federal capital and a small regional city. To a large extent, this history is story: a set of possibilities and lines of thought that have coalesced in the idea of a capital. Expounding sometimes ideals and sometimes practicalities, and complying with policy, legislation and aesthetic theories, the initiators of Canberra established a way of living in, and thinking through, what it is to be within a landscape, within discourse and within particular ideas of history. We draw on insights from Jean Baudrillard, and Deleuze and Guattari, and reference the work of landscape architects and of historians, we discuss this history and explore the tension between the lived and the imagined Canberra.




Webb, J., & Williams, J. (2015, May 4). Canberra: Ideal city, imagined city. Continuum. Routledge.

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