This week (5th of May) the renowned international architect Romaldo Giurgola died in Canberra. Although a successful architect on the international scene he will be remembered (in Australia, at least) for his beautiful, innovative and thoughtful design for the Parliament House in Canberra.
Giurgola won the international competition to design Australia’s ‘new’ parliament house in 1979 while he was living in New York. Originally born in Rome he moved to New York at the age of 27 and there discovered Walter Burley Griffin’s vision for Canberra. Giurgola was taken with the architect’s respect for the unique Australian landscape and incorporation the environment into his designs as an integral part of the plan for the new city.
While Giurgola’s design for the Parliament House has been hailed as distinctive, the driving force behind it was, according to the architect, the concept of democracy itself. Giurgola felt that rather than dominating the landscape, the Parliament should rise out of the very ground on which it stood, in the way that democracy should rise out of the state of things.
Giurgola loved Canberra from the moment he saw it, and ultimately made the city his home. He said that Canberra was a unique city in the world and claimed it was something precious for which he would fight until his last day.