The High Court of Australia is a monumental, fortress-like building. Love it or hate it, this style of architecture cannot be ignored.
I had not heard the term “brutalist architecture” before and found this huge building intimidating but, with the high wall of glass windows and glimpses of art work inside, strangely appealing and made me want to take a look inside. I wondered could the public just wander around?
So hesitantly I pushed through the revolving doors.
Being Sunday no courts were in session but a very helpful Court Guide welcomed us in and told us of the points of interest, and yes we could take photos. The first thing to see was the 10 minute video explaining the history of the building and this is when I found out about “brutalist architecture”
“The High Court building is an outstanding example of late modern Brutalist architecture. It has light-filled, bold geometric shapes and spaces, raw massed concrete, dynamic internal movement, and strong links with neighbouring buildings and landscape. It is monumental and asymmetrical, but also functional.
A national design competition for the building announced in May 1972 was won by the architectural firm of Edwards Madigan Torzillo and Briggs (EMTB).
It was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 26 May 1980″ (information from high court website)
I thought it was an imposing interior space, huge and majestic, yet inviting.
This is a painting by an Aboriginal woman. Reading the caption you can hear her talking and it is a very significant statement about the change from Aboriginal cultural laws to todays justice system.
All the art work through out the building, from the portraits of Chief Justices to State emblems are significant and symbolic.
“The High Court will be a powerful and dominating structure, and must be considered one of the most important buildings in Canberra from all points of view. It is equally important that the art works which contribute towards the visual realisation of what this building means to the people of Australia, should also be of the highest calibre.”
As intended, many of the artworks in the High Court’s collection represent aspects of the economic, social and cultural development of the nation. Some engage with the history, workings and aspirations of the Court.
The public are allowed to sit in and observe the court in action, but, of course, no photos could be taken then.
Sunday was a good day to look through the building but I now want to go back during the week when the courts are in session to see law being enacted. Also on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month a free concert is performed in the foyer and with the towering ceilings I imagine the acoustics will be spectacular.
This is the next concert on August 3rd.
Canberra Recorder & Early Music Society (CREMS), founded in 1974 is a friendly, non-auditioned group of recorder players from Canberra and the surrounding region. Enjoying playing early and modern music in ensembles and recorder orchestra,
CREMS is led by Barbara Jerjen. In this concert you will hear music of the Renaissance as well as contemporary music arranged for recorder orchestra and played on seven different-sized recorders from the tiny sopranino to the very large contra-bass.
Now that sounds interesting…
We enjoyed visiting this building very much. Like you, we found the guides very helpful and informative. It wasn’t busy the day we were there and we had the opportunity to talk with our guide and ask lots of questions. Great post.