About Us

Why Canberra Modern?

Canberra is a young city with a rich architectural legacy. With major boom periods in the 1920s and again from the 1950s-1970s – the architectural aesthetic of the city is eclectic, but deliberately cohesive.  


The mid-century period of development in Canberra, specifically during the National Capital Development Commission’s (NCDC) oversight (1958-1989) has not been widely celebrated or recognised by the Canberra community.

Major developments not only in residential, but civic and community buildings saw the frequent involvement of architects now considered pioneers of the modernist movement, and the construction of a key collection of iconic and unique mid-century buildings in Australia.  


Many of these structures, which make an irreplaceable contribution to Canberra’s architectural landscape, have already been lost and many face risk of being lost in the near future.  

ANU and University House

In our inaugural year - Canberra Modern is centred the Australian National University (ANU) and its crown jewels University House. 


University House was designed by Professor Brian Lewis and opened in 1954 by the Duke of Edinburgh. 
It was designed in the 'oxbridge' model as accommodation for academics and postgraduates.
The building is uniquely modernist, with is grand spaces and restrained detailing. 


The architecture is complemented by manicured landscape spaces and unique interior design including bespoke furniture by Fred Ward 

DESIGN Canberra

Canberra Modern 2017 is being presented as part of DESIGN Canberra, celebrating and promoting Canberra as a global city of design | 6 - 26 November 


 DESIGN Canberra celebrates and promotes Canberra as a global city of design.


From the time of Walter and Marion Griffin’s visionary design a century ago, to iconic experimental modernist architecture of the 1950s and 60s, through to contemporary and sustainable design developments today, Canberra has been – and will always be – a living design laboratory.


Throughout November 2017, over 100 events, exhibitions, talks, tours, markets, artist studios and open homes will be showcased as DESIGN Canberra. The festival is for all interests and ages.