Is there any end to the enigma of the Griffins? Not in this centenary year there isn't, and certainly not during the Canberra International Music Festival, which is, on one level, about revealing the beauty of everyday patterns.
Festival director Chris Latham is used to seeing patterns in things, and this weekend he'll be revealing some of the ''secret geometry'' in Walter and Marion Griffin's design for Canberra.
From Gothic arches and a Jesus fish, to pyramids and haloes, the capital's design is replete with symbolism, although it often goes unacknowledged in the positioning of the Griffins as champions of a secular democracy above all else.
''People don't seem to want to talk about this publicly,'' Latham said. ''Most of the Griffin research has been highly secular, and it seems odd to me because no one has a problem with talking about [Walter's] use of Islamic motifs in India - that is a common discussion. But the fact that he uses Christian archetypes seems to be not a subject of discussion, and I'm not entirely sure why.''
He said that apart from the fact that much of the ''sacred'' geometry used in the Canberra design - based on triangles and circles, rather than squares and rectangles - was the result of using basic principles of architecture in the pre-computer era, the Griffins had come here to build a kind of ''utopian democracy''.
''They were interested in how it could be done so that the form of how power was expressed could be done very overtly,'' he said.
''Now we've moved around the buildings, but they had very overt descriptions of how power would be shown in the relations of the buildings to each other. And the whole point was that in middle of that little circle, the ''eye'' above the pyramid, was not supposed to be Parliament House, it was supposed to be public land, and the idea was the people would be able to be above the power structures, and in actual fact Parliament House was situated down near the lake.''
On the other hand, much of Griffin's fixation on lines and patterns has today been absorbed into our enduring impression of the city today - the ''Y'' plan that forms the basis of the city's blueprint.
''The genius of Griffin that still freaks me out is that he looked at a topographical map and he imposed a very rational geometric structure, so that the high points … were major noble points, and all we're doing is showing that he managed to see there was a pattern in the geological formation here,'' he said.
''These hills are in a straight line, hence the land axis, and then he's able to very, very gently drop in this perfect piece of geometry that ties all those high points together.''
He said many art forms contained patterns, and architecture was a good example of allegorical interpretation.
''In old historical cities like London or Paris, they have sacred architecture built into them, like Saint Paul's Cathedral, or Notre Dame de Paris, and the culture's very proud of it,'' he said. ''In Canberra the shape of the city is this piece of sacred artwork, and I don't think it diminishes the city to know that.''
■ The Barbara Blackman Lecture is on Sunday, May 5, at 2pm, at the James Fairfax Theatre in the National Gallery of Australia. Entry is free.