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 project species
 
Blackwood

Myrtle

Huon pine

 application
Flooring
Lining & cladding
Bench tops & joinery
Furniture
Fittings & trims
John Gollings: Provided courtesy of the Australian Parliament and the architects  
 Parliament House
Architect | Mitchell / Giurgola & Thorpe
Client | Commonwealth of Australia
Location | Canberra, ACT
Date Completed | 1988
Much of the interior of Parliament House in Canberra has been finished in a variety of Australian native timber, with Blackwood, Myrtle and Huon Pine representing the Tasmanian species.
 images
 Detail Descriptions
In 1974 the Australian government made a decision to hold an international design competition for a new parliament house, in Canberra. Italian-American architect Aldo Giurgola's winning design shows deep respect for Walter Burley Griffin's original plan for Canberra, incorporating the major axis of the city's plan into the form of the building. Parliament House was an enormous project that aimed for the highest quality in all areas, including the extensive timber interiors. Being basically a concrete and masonry building, timber was used to provide visual warmth and a softer approachable character to the interiors.
Timber was chosen for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Native hardwoods were used in solid sections in hard wearing areas such as floors, skirtings and railings, and on surfaces that came into human contact such as handrails and doors. In other areas timber was used as a veneer, for economic reasons. The use of timbers from all over Australia also played a role in expressing a national identity and character in the building. Within the colour scheme the timbers were chosen to both reflect the natural colours of the landscape but also to interpret the traditional Westminster colours of red and green for the upper and lower houses of parliament. Western Australian Jarrah and Tasmanian Myrtle were used to create the red of the Senate. For the green of the House of Representatives, Grey Box and Turpentine were used. These last two timbers had not normally been used as veneers, and research was carried out to overcome splitting and warping while drying. This led to whole new industry applications for these timbers. Distinguished by its spectacular use of timber, the Members' Hall lies at the very centre of the Parliament House complex, between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The flooring of the hall is rich geometric patterns of parquetry, in the centre, and Brush Box strip flooring in the circulation spaces around the edge. The concrete masonry columns around the edge of the member's hall are clad in 22mm thick solid strips of Turpentine mounted on a steel stiffener ring, which in turn is bolted to the column. The steel and timber cladding unit has control joints both vertically and horizontally to allow for differential movement in the timber. In the Members Hall, and in most other major internal spaces, the masonry walls are clad in modular, prefabricated timber panels. By having the panels fully shop fabricated off site, a consistently high quality of finishing was achieved. This also allowed for various services to be installed in the panels while still in the workshop. The panels were too big to be clad in one single veneer, so rather than match continuous runs of a single species, the architects chose to use 2 or 3 different species in each panel. This enabled a gradual development of the colour scheme throughout the building The balustrading on the edge of the different levels of the hall was constructed in a similar way to the panels, with the top of the balustrade and the seat solid timber, and the vertical faces veneers on manufactured board.
 
 publications
Parliament House, Canberra [print] | 03p.pdf
Parliament House, Canberra [screen] | 03s.pdf
 species
Blackwood
Myrtle
Huon pine
 products
Hardwood flooring
Sawn hardwood
Sawn special species
Veneer
Furniture
 applications
Flooring
Lining & cladding
Fittings & trims
Bench tops & joinery
Furniture