Anger is growing over the government’s plans to erect a 2.6 meter high fence on around the permitter of Parliament House which will limit public access to most of the lawns.
In response to the decision on the part of MP's to vote through new security measures on the last day of sitting – including the fence as well as fewer pedestrian entry points, more CCTV cameras and additional machine gun-equipped police patrolling the perimeters – several prominent architects have hit out at the new plans.
As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald,, Australia’s only Pritzker Prize Laureated Glenn Murcutt describes the changes as being ‘terrible’ from an architectural point of view as the building had been originally designed by architect Romaldo Giurogola to resemble freedom, democracy and open access for the people.
Putting the fence up, Murcutt said, was like ‘putting a noose around it’.
Australian Institute of Architects national president Ken Maher agrees, saying he was ‘deeply outraged’ at the way in which the plan will restrict access to the building’s lawn.
As quoted on Architecture and Design, Maher said the plan ‘flies in the face of the design intent of the architect, the late Romaldo Giurgola’.
In addition to the concern about restricted access, there has also been criticism of the secrecy of the plans, with Fairfax reporting that Canberra’s National Capital Authority had confirmed that there would be no public consultation on the plan on the basis of national security.
The latest actions follow the intrusion of members of the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance, which saw two protesters abseil off the roof of the building and unfurl a banner across the main entrance calling upon the closure of refugee camps.
That happened a day after protesters superglued themselves to railings within the building during question time.
House of Representatives speaker Tony Smith acknowledges that the upgrade will impact upon the original design the building but said it was important to acknowledge that the world had changed since the design was created in the late 1970s.
He said the changes reflected months of consideration and advice from security agencies.