ACT News

Could Lake Burley Griffin be home to a Questacon-style exercise centre?

Visitors could be riding BMX bikes across Lake Burley Griffin, swinging from the ceiling or bouncing on trampolines if the designers of a Questacon-style activity and exercise centre overlooking the West Basin had their way, but there's a catch – the concept remains a mere idea.

The team of five young Canberra architects, engineers and designers who came up with the "world-class" Australian Centre to Inspire Vitality, Activity, Teamwork and Exercise or ACTivate pitched as a way of reenergising the West Basin.

The Australian Centre to Inspire Vitality, Activity, Teamwork and Exercise or ACTivate pitched as a way of reenergising ...
The Australian Centre to Inspire Vitality, Activity, Teamwork and Exercise or ACTivate pitched as a way of reenergising the Lake Burley Griffin's West Basin 

And for their efforts they beat 10 other teams who threw up diverse ideas, including a floating village, stadium and casino and land walkways across Parkes Way, to take out the inaugural Chief Minister's Challenge to develop ideas to increase interaction with Lake Burley Griffin.

Although it remained an "ideas competition" only, the winning team, including architect Hannah-Jean Cole from AMC Architecture and mechanical engineer Ewen Lee from WSP, "can't wait to see it built" and believe with private and public funding it could become a reality.

Ropes courses, obstacle courses and indoor climbing would be some of the activities on offer at ACTivate.
Ropes courses, obstacle courses and indoor climbing would be some of the activities on offer at ACTivate. 

"We are hoping to present it to the LDA (Land Development Agency) board at some stage and then potentially take it to NCA (National Capital Authority) and get some sort of feel of the interest in it," Ms Cole said.

The team believes the concept already has a successful precedence in Questacon and similarly their centre would cost $40 million to build, rake in yearly revenue of about $23 million and have up to 33,000 visitors annually.

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"Like Questacon is to science and technology our centre would be to activity and movement," Mr Lee said.

Far from being a tourist-only destination, the designers' vision would see the centre used by Canberrans every day even if it's just office workers on their lunch break.

ACTivate could include BMX tracks across Lake Burley Griffin.
ACTivate could include BMX tracks across Lake Burley Griffin. 

But with BMX tracks, ropes courses, obstacle courses and indoor climbing among the activities, Ms Cole said the "iconic building" would be "different to your average gym".

The concept would also include a rectangular pontoon on to the lake which its creators believe could host concerts and major events.

The teams had six weeks to create their vision for the competition organised by young professionals' group Future Net and industry body Consult Australia to encourage young Canberrans to think innovatively about the city's future. 

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said initiatives such as the challenge showed the government was working hard to give "unheard voices, untested theories and unshared ideas".