Architecture of Parliament House

Visitors experience the magnificent architecture and design of the building such as the 81-metre high flagmast, which is one of the world's largest stainless steel structures and is recognised as a national icon.

Opened 9 May 1988 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Parliament House is the home of Australia's Federal Parliament and one of the world's most acclaimed buildings.

Designed by Mitchell/Giurgola and Thorp architects, following a design competition that attracted 329 entries from 28 countries, it is one of the largest buildings in the southern hemisphere.

Parliament House welcomes around 1 million visitors from Australia and overseas each year, making it one of Canberra's most popular attractions.


The Forecourt Mosaic is based on a Central Desert dot-style painting by Nelson Jagamara, a leading Aboriginal artist from the Papunya community of the Northern Territory. The mosaic is made up of approximately 90,000 hand-guillotined granite pieces in seven different colours and represents a Possum and Wallaby Dreaming.

The marquetry panels in the main Foyer are inlaid with designs of Australian flora. The 20 panels were designed by Adelaide artist Tony Bishop and fabricated with Sydney craftsman Michael Retter. Some panels feature traditional Aboriginal food sources and others feature botanical specimens documented by Sir Joseph Banks when he landed on the East Coast of Australia with Captain Cook in 1770.

The Great Hall Tapestry is based on a painting by Australian artist Arthur Boyd, AC, OBE. It features a eucalyptus forest in the Shoalhaven area of New South Wales. Measuring 20 x 9 metres, it is one of the largest tapestries in the world. A team of 13 weavers from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop took just two and a half years to complete the work.

The Embroidery was a Bicentennial gift to the nation from the Embroiders' Guilds of Australia. Adelaide artist Kay Lawrence designed the work, which then took over 500 members of the Embroiders' Guilds of Australia more than 12,000 hours to stitch. It is made from cotton, linen and wool, with some synthetic fibre.

Static displays in the Members' Hall include some of Australia's most important historical documents such as the original Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 (UK) and one of only four surviving 1297 issues of Magna Carta.

The Tom Roberts' Painting hanging in the foyer of the Main Committee Room shows the opening of the first Australian Parliament, in Melbourne's Exhibition Building on 9 May 1901, by the Duke of Cornwall and York.

Red Ochre Cove, a dramatic painting by Canberra artist Mandy Martin, can be found in the Main Committee Room.

The roof of Parliament House provides spectacular views of Canberra. Visitors are welcome to walk on the grass ramps covering the building. The lift to the roof is marked on the floor plan in the Visitor Guide which can be obtained from the Information Desk on your arrival at Parliament House.


The 81-metre high stainless steel flagpole can be viewed from the roof of the building. The flag, measuring 12.8 x 6.4 metres, is approximately the size of the side of a double-decker bus.

Back to top

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print
Back to top