Would any other country but Australia build a seat of Parliament specifically designed to have its ordinary folk walk all over its leaders?

Would any other country but Australia build a seat of Parliament specifically designed to have its ordinary folk walk all over its leaders, kick a footy or even take a hot-air balloon flight? Try that at the White House and see what happens.

Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in May 2008, was built with a grass roof to give you the chance to walk all over your elected officials. However, Romaldo Giurgola, the Italian architect in charge of the design for this unique structure symbolising the people over the government, isn’t happy. Heightened security concerns mean people are no longer able to enjoy unfettered access to the grassy slope designed just for them. And the ongoing drought has the government considering cutting back some of the blocked off grass in an effort to conserve water. In response to this news, an outraged Romaldo said that every country has gone through difficult periods “but they don’t destroy their national buildings.”

So while for the moment you can’t enjoy a day of rolling and tumbling down the gentle slopes with the kids, you’ll still be able to hot-air balloon over the only Parliament House in world that allows you to do so. (Not that the politicians need more hot air.)

Where // Parliament Drive, Canberra. Free regular guided tours. (02) 6277 5399, www.aph.gov.au or www.visitcanberra.com.au

Did you know? // The flagpole on the roof of Parliament House weighs 220 tonnes, was made in Newcastle, and is considered one of the world’s largest stainless steel structures.

 

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