The plan to showcase Canberra’s Lake Burley Griffin by linking it with the CBD recently won one of the country’s most prestigious urban design awards.

The ACT government’s project ‘Linking City to Lake’ won the 2013 Australia Awards for Urban Design (AAUD) in the category of large scale Policies, Programs, and Concepts.

Hosted by the Planning institute of Australia (PIA), the winners were announced at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Established by former prime minister Paul Keating in 1996, the Australia Award for Urban Design celebrates the integral role that urban design plays in social, environmental and economic development of Australian towns.

The awards are hosted annually by the PIA with the support of the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the Green Building Council of Australia, the Urban Design Forum, Consult Australia and the Property Council of Australia.

A jury made up of practitioners from the supporting organisations came up with the criteria for assessment of the entries.

Two other projects received awards including Brisbane’s Northern Busway from Windsor to Kedron for large-scale delivered outcome and the Sydney laneway upgrades for small-scale delivered outcome. There was no winner selected in the small-scale Policies, Programs and Concepts category.

Canberra CBD

Canberra CBD

Canberra’s Winning Project

Designed to transform central Canberra, the link plan will provide a bustling public domain and facilities to attract residents and visitors to spend more time in the community. The plan will be a catalyst toward making the area safer, more accessible and more active with plenty of activities happening day and night.

The goal was to change the feel of the precinct which is presently difficult to access. The central business district currently faces away from the lake and surrounding park.

The project aims to create a new bustling waterfront area at Commonwealth Park and City Hill with several civic projects connecting the city.

PIA president Dyan Currie says the winning plan will transform central Canberra through flexible civic planning by integrating pedestrian access, light rail and land bridges.

“This is a logical move for Canberra,” says Currie, who is content with the plans to link the civic precinct with the waterfront. “The jury was impressed with how the project respects and extends Canberra’s historical settings in a way that is appropriate in a modern growing city.”

The project was the combined work of the ACT Office of the Coordinator General, Hill Thalis, SMEC Australia, MacroPlan Dimasi, JILA, and Tania Parkes Consulting.

Urban Design is receiving greater attention recently with the local, state and federal governments, peak industry bodies and community organisations coming together through the creation of Creating Spaces for People – An Urban Design Protocol for Australian Cities.

“Again this year, each of the winning entries is testimony to the terrific work being achieved in planning and urban design in Australia,” Currie says.