Model Construction:


Canberra House:

 This project is being developed with ongoing assistance from the Australian National University (ANU) Sustainability and Heritage Office, Facilities and Services Division. ANU is committed to the best practice conservation, management and interpretation of its diverse heritage places and is excited to collaborate with Cockington Green on this exciting project. Old Canberra House is listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List (as part of the wider Acton Conservation Area) and is recognised in the National Trust of Australia (ACT) List of Classified Places.
Old Canberra House is one of the earliest buildings on the ANU campus, dating from the time of Canberra’s establishment as the Federal Capital. ‘The Residency’, as it was first named, was constructed in 1913 for the Administrator of the newly established Capital, Colonel David Miller. Old Canberra House was the first double storey building to be constructed in Canberra and was designed by the Chief Commonwealth Architect, John Smith Murdoch, who designed many of Canberra’s earliest and most prominent buildings including Old Parliament House and the Hyatt Hotel. The landscape was designed by Thomas Charles Weston (of Weston Park) who was the Officer in Charge of Afforestation in Canberra’s early days.
The location of Old Canberra House on the highest point of the ridge are significant in understanding the hierarchical nature of early Canberra: this illustrious residence was the home of the Administrator, at the top of the hierarchy; high and mid-level public servants were provided with modest cottages (as seen along Balmain Crescent and Liversidge Street); and the low-level workers were accommodated on the lowest part of the ridge, in canvas tents and basic weatherboard dormitories (such as the current Lennox House).
Old Canberra House has had a diverse history of occupation. After its use as the Administrator’s residence, it was used to house senior members of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee and the Federal Capital Commission (early planning bodies for Canberra). During the 1930s it was used as a residence for several British High Commissioners, before being converted into Canberra’s Commonwealth Club. Following the transfer of ownership to ANU, it was developed as the ANU Staff Club, the only club of its type in Australia to allow the intermingling of staff and students. The building is now used by the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy.

Canberra House will be the first building constructed in the Australian Houses Project and is a Centenary of Canberra Project, and for the first time progress can be followed on our Facebook page.  Watch below and follow as the project develops.

Plans and images have been provided The National Archives of Australia and used with it's permission.

Plan re-scaling:

One of the first things on the list when constructing a new model is finding plans and Images of the building.  With the help of the ANU and plans and images provided by the National Archives, we have a snapshot of the building as it was in 1913.

Once collected, the plans have to be re-scaled and in some cases be re-drawn to allow our model maker to commence work on the moulds that will eventually be the doors, windows and other detail parts that go into constructing a building for our display. 

Below are some examples of the re-scaled plans.

Building the Moulds:

Once the planning stage is complete, work can start on making the window, door and other moulds needed for the building.

Window and door moulds are typically made from balsa wood, once the mould or "plug" is made the next step in the mould creating process takes place.


All the window moulds have been created and the Silicone moulding compound has been poured into the moulds.  Once the compound sets the window manufacturing production line should start next week.

This is some of the fibreglass matting used to create the sheets that will eventually be the walls and roof of Canberra House


Assembly of the structure:

The outer walls are taking shape, all the windows and doors have been added to the wall sheets.  The corners are strengthened inside using fiberglass and resin, once this part of construction is complete work will commence on the roof.


Construction is complete. Canberra House will be on temporary display with our gardens for a short while and will then be used as a promotional vehicle for Cockington Green Gardens.