Between a Beautiful City and a Garden City: Walter Burley Griffin's Design of Canberra

  • Park, Jinbin (Department of History, Kyung Hee University)
  • Received : 2020.11.23
  • Accepted : 2020.12.21
  • Published : 2020.12.31


Canberra, the capital city of Australia, has been known as an example of the international Garden City movement, which started by an Englishman Ebenezer Howard in the late 19th Century. As a new capital site, Canberra was designed by an American architect Walter Burley Griffin, the winner of the world-wide competition for a federal capital in 1912. However, a closer look at the early history of Canberra would reveal that the popular understanding of her as a Garden City was somewhat exaggerated and distorted. Griffin's ideas of the new capital strongly suggest that he was influenced by City Beautiful, an American urban planning trend. Also, Griffin's original plan for Canberra was never fully appreciated nor realized, as many objections and difficulties arisen. Furthermore, Australian understanding of 'Garden City' evolved to more inclusive and overlapping idea of greener and less condensed towns in general.



  1. Brown, A. J. (1952). Some notes on the plan of Canberra, federal capital of Australia. Town Planning Review, 23(2), 146--163.
  2. Burnham, D. H., & Bennett, E. H. (1909). The Plan of Chicago. Chicago: Commercial Club of Chicago.
  3. Davidge, W. (1912). Garden City and Town Planning 2, 271-278.
  4. "Federal Capital City Designs: Report of Board Appointed to Investigate and Report as to Suitability of Certain Designs for Adoption in Connexion with Lay-Out of Federal Capital," A657: Design (approved) for Lay-Out of Federal Capital City, National Archives of Australia
  5. Freestone, R. (1989). Model Communities: The Garden City Movement in Australia. ∖ Melbourne: Nelson
  6. Freestone, R. (2007). Designing Australia's Cities: Culture, Commerce and the City Beautiful, 1900-1930. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
  7. Griffin, W. B. (1913). The Federal Capital: Report Explanatory of the Preliminary General Plan, p. 5. Melbourne: Government Printer.
  8. Griffin, W. B. (1914). A Speech in the City Club Bulletin, 7 (February 17, 1914), 67-68.
  9. Higgins, B. (1951). Canberra: A Garden without a City. Journal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, 18, 245-256.
  10. Journal of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, 11 (May 1913), 76-77, an editorial republished from Journal of the American Institute of Architects.
  11. O'Malley, K. (2011). King O'Malley. Exhibited at Canberra Museum & Gallery October 29, 2011 - March 12, 2012.
  12. Robinson, C. M. (1901). Improvement of towns and cities. New York, NY: Putnam's Sons.
  13. Stern, R. A., Fishman, D., & Tilove, J. (2013). Paradise planned: the garden suburb and the modern city. New York, NY: Monacelli Press.
  14. Sulman, J. (1921). An Introduction to the Study of Town Planning in Australia, Sydney: NSW Government Printer.
  15. Turnbull, J. (1998). Dreams of Equity. In A. Watson (Ed.), Beyond Architecture: Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin in America, Australia and India, pp. 104-119. Sydney: Powerhouse Publishing.
  16. Zueblin, C. (1903). The "White City" and After. Chautauquan, 38, 373-84.