Churchill House was designed by Robin Boyd for the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia in 1969-70 and construction was completed in 1971.

Churchill house photograph of rear entrance.
Churchill House as seen in 2013. Photo by ACT Heritage 2013.

Stylistic Analysis

Several components make up the complex. The main building, with east and south wings; the separate north wing or pavilion; the central pool and a rear carpark. The main building forms an L shape and with the north wing it encloses a courtyard with a large ornamental pool. The main building is three storeys high with a four storey lift tower at the southeast corner. The north wing and the carpark are two storeyed.

Original plans of Churchill House
The original plans of Churchill House by Boyd, showing the L Shaped Main Building and Glass Pavillion. Photo courtesy of Ann Cleary.

Churchill House is an example of the late Twentieth-Century Brutalist style and displays several key features:

Original plans of Churchill House
Large areas of Churchill house have blank concrete walls, a defining feature of mid-20th Century Brutalism. Photo by ACT Heritage 2013.

In addition, it displays a number of the other features of this style:

Churchill House's sloping structural fins
The sloping structural steel members of Churchill House. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.
Cladding and fins on Churchill house
The precast non-loadbearing wall panels. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.

The building generally appears to be in fair to good condition. However, a number of changes have been made which diminish its integrity including:

None the less, the building retains substantial components and details of the original design.

Churchill House displays a fairly restrained form of brutalism in comparison with the major Canberra buildings that followed in this style including the Cameron Offices, National Gallery of Australia and High Court of Australia.

Main Building

The main building displays several different elevational treatments. The elevations facing onto the pool area feature floor to ceiling glass with minimal black metal frames to the lowest level, and precast vertical panels on the upper two storeys. Each panel has a projecting fin and are relatively narrow, with the overall affect being of closely spaced vertical fins. Beside the fins are narrow, slot windows providing minimal outlook onto the pool area.

Precast Fins in clearer view
A closer view of the lower level windows and upper level fins. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.

The south and east elevations are quite different in character having long horizontal sections of flush-mounted glazing set in minimal black metal frames, with timber-textured off-form concrete spandrels between storeys. The base course of the elevation is a large section black-coated steel beam. Several window-mounted air conditioners are located on the south elevation. The blank end walls of the wings and the lift tower are off-form, timber-textured concrete with incised storey lines.

South and East elevations showing long horizontal glass sections
The south and east elevations have long horziontal glazing set in black metal frames. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.

At the junction of the two wings are the foyers for each floor as well as the service core including the lift. Apart from the off-form concrete walls of the service elements, the foyers feature glazing set in black metal frames which extends the full height of the building. At the ground floor level, the glazing is vertical but above that for the remaining two storeys it is sloping.

The building has concrete slab floors which are either carpeted or finished in slate. Some interior walls are textured, off-form concrete similar to the exterior. Other walls are lightweight partitions. There is a mixture of ceiling treatments: off-form concrete, suspended ceilings and set plasterboard. Many of the interior fit outs appear relatively modern and are not original.

The roof of the main building is set behind a parapet and appears to be graded concrete with a membrane coating.

North Wing

The north wing replaces an earlier pavilion on the same location. The current wing is a two storey structure with a flat metal deck roof set behind a parapet. The wing has an encircling steel colonnade which supports the roof and parapet. The walls are set back from the colonnade and feature flush-mounted glazing set in thin black metal frames, with textured off-form concrete spandrels, similar to the south wall of the south wing. There is an enclosed link between the north and east wings at the ground floor level.

Replacement north wing of Churchill House
The replacment North Wing of Churchill House. Photo by ACT Heritage 2013.

Outdoor Areas

The pool area is lower than the surrounding site, and being mostly enclosed by the wings, has the quality of a sunken courtyard. The pool area is reached by a large flight of concrete steps from the west, and features a pond which borders a large, raised central island which is reached from one side by a set of bridging steps. The island has concrete paving, garden beds and silver birch trees, and is the location for a large fibreglass statue of Sir Winston Churchill.

The pool area of Churchill House, copyright Darren Bradley
The central pool area of Churchill House. Image Copyright - Darren Bradley.

The carpark is constructed in off-form concrete, with walls displaying the texture of the timber formwork.

Textured formwork at Churchill House.
Textured formwork at Churchill House, a common feature of Brutalist buildings. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.


Churchill House has a number of landscape/garden areas. At the front (west) of the building is an open lawn area and either side are mixed native/exotic plantings. The pool area contains numerous trees and shrubs, again of mixed native/exotic species.

A small courtyard to the southeast of the main building features bamboo.

Native landscaping at Churchill House
Native Shrubs in the pool area of Churchill House. Photo courtesy Ben Ennis Butler.