"The Institute is pleased to be involved with Canberra's Centenary project, exploring the ideas of urban development and planning in the modern built environment."
David Parken, CEO, Australian Institute of Architects

CAPITheticAL is an international design ideas competition for a hypothetical capital city.  Initiated for the Centenary of Canberra in 2013 and administered by the Australian Institute of Architects, it encourages participants to look back on the important public conversation that helped determine our national capital and look forward to the big ideas that will shape our future cities in the 21st century and beyond.

In the lead up to the Centenary of Canberra celebrations in 2013, it is timely to consider the factors and influences that led to the creation of a new capital for a newly federated nation.  The international competition to design the new Australian capital was a bold move and had an unlikely winner in Chicago’s Walter Burley Griffin and his wife and business partner, Marion Mahony Griffin.  The design of Canberra is a remarkable achievement; but most people don’t know about this story or the extraordinary couple who won the competition with their ‘ideal city’ concept and beautiful plans and drawings.

In 2011, artists, graphic designers, architects, urban planners, environmentalists and students were invited to review these events and to help our nation imagine how such a challenge would be met today.   Entrants to the CAPITheticAL were required to demonstrate knowledge of the original debates and issues that led to the original design competition.  Competition Ambassador His Excellency Michael Bryce launched the competition on 6 May 2010.

A total of 1292 people registered for the CAPITheticAL competition.  114 entries were received from 24 countries by the closing date on 31 January 2012.  Entries were received from the United States of America, Canada, Scotland and the United Kingdom and New Zealand, from throughout Europe – including France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Russia – and from throughout Asia and the Middle East, including China, India, Malaysia and Kazakhstan.  Reflecting the far reaching, international scope of registrations, the shortlist comprises entrants from all over Australia and the world, making CAPITheticAL an international celebration of Canberra.

The jury, which consisted of Professor Barbara Norman (Chair) Dr Catherin Bull AM, Councillor John McInerney, Callum Morton and Professor Alastair Swayn, selected 20 finalists from a pool of 41 student entries and 73 open category entries.   

Shortlisted finalists are now developing their entries to display standard for a curated exhibition of entries to be held at the Gallery of Australian Design from 6 March to 11 May 2013.  The Gallery of Australian Design is a public gallery established in partnership between the University of Canberra, the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects and the National Museum of Australia.

The ultimate winners will be announced at a special event at the Gallery of Australian Design on 12 March 2013. A people’s choice competition will also be held in association with the CAPIThetical with winners to be announced at the conclusion of the exhibition in early May 2013.

For more information and to view the shortlisted entrants’ biographies, please go to

CAPITheticAL is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly presented by the ACT Government, supported by the Australian Government and administered by the Australian Institute of Architects.

Shortlisted Entrants:

  • Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) (Perth)
  • Brit Andresen and Mara Francis (Brisbane)
  • Dirk Bolt (Scotland)
  • Daniel Spence and Kristina Sahleström (Sydney and Sweden)
  • Douglas Muir (United States of America)
  • D R A F T – Helen Norrie, Jenna Rowe and Elizabeth Walsh (Tasmania)
  • Ecoscape (Fremantle)
  • The Engagement Studio (Melbourne)
  • Dr Paola Favaro and Team (Sydney and International)
  • Gareth Cotter (UK)
  • Jones Sonter Architects (Sydney)
  • John Kurko (Gold Coast)
  • Kate Dickinson and Annabel Koeck (Sydney)
  • ParTri – Tony Lam, Vahid Tehrani and Liam Filson (Sydney)
  • MHBC – Armando Lopes, Eldon Theodore and Mackenzie Keast (Canada)
  • Manasi S Satbhai (India)
  • MUDD (Sydney and International)
  • Philip Etchells (UK)
  • Sarah Herbert (Canberra)
  • Samson Tiew and Beatrice Toh (Melbourne via Malaysia)

For more information and to view the shortlisted entrants’ biographies, please go to

For more information about the CAPITheticAL exhibition visit

CAPITheticAL is proudly supported by:

Architecture Australia

Artichoke Magazine; and

Landscape Architecture Australia

University of Canberra

The University of Sydney

University of Tasmania

University of South Australia

Queensland University of Technology

RMIT University

University of Technology, Sydney

University of NSW

Monash University


Deakin University

The University of Western Australia

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

New Zealand Institute of Architects Incorporated

Design Institute of Australia

Building Smart

Planning Institute of Australia

Craft Australia

Consult Australia

Engineers Australia