The Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture's Neil Hobbes, University of Canberra's Acting Vice Chancellor Nick Klomp, National Gallery of Australia director Rod Radford and Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition advisor Annabelle Pegrum enjoying the surrounds on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin where the new, contemporary Lodge would be built.

The Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture's Neil Hobbes, University of Canberra's Acting Vice Chancellor Nick Klomp, National Gallery of Australia director Ron Radford and Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition advisor Annabelle Pegrum enjoy the surrounds on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin where the new, contemporary Lodge would be built. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

The Canberra home of the Prime Minister is a poorly decorated embarrassment according to the director of the National Gallery of Australia.

“The only good thing about the Lodge is the Australian paintings that are lent by the Australian National Gallery because it's got extremely bad furniture,” Ron Radford said ahead of Saturday's launch of Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas Competition.

“It's shocking furniture you wouldn't have anywhere, it's actually cheap and nasty covered with awful floral chintz. It's terrible. It's an embarrassment,” he said while touring the proposed site of a new waterfront Lodge in Yarralumla.

The Lodge on the Lake Design Ideas architectural competition is a University of Canberra and Gallery of Australian Design initiative which encourages Australian designers to sketch their ideas for a more contemporary official residence for the Prime Minister on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin.

While University of Canberra's acting Vice Chancellor Nick Klomp jokingly suggested he would like to see a waterslide incorporated into the design, competition adviser Annabelle Pegrum said an entrance which could be accessed from the water would take advantage of the six hectare site which sits in a natural cove near Attunga Point.

Ms Pegrum said the bicycle path and a section of Alexandrina Drive “may or may not need to be redirected”.

“I think in fact it might solve some of the problems of access to the foreshore rather than create them because there will be a clear entry to this development both from the road areas but also from the lake front and it will engage people in the way that they can see the Lodge and see what’s happening there,” she said.

Judges will be looking for innovative designs that reflect the environment and the “Australian character” as well as incorporating local materials into the finished product.

“I want to see things that reflect Australia, Australian materials, something that we can be proud of. I will be looking also at the idea of private apartments for the Prime Minister and the public apartments as well to separate the two,” Mr Radford said.

“At the moment family and dogs have to spread into this tiny little Lodge and I think that there should be separate apartments where they actually live and where the Prime Minister formally entertains.”

The competition is open to Australian design professionals, graduates and students. Entries must incorporate all the ceremonial, private and security logistics required for the Prime Minister's residence.

The winning design will take home $80,000.