Australia is a independent federal state within the Commonwealth (since 1901; head of state is the sovereign of the United Kingdom). The territory coincides with the homonymous continent (➔ Australia), but also includes the island of Tasmania.
The territory can be divided into three zones: the Great Dividing Range, formed by a series of chains that line up along the eastern edge, and then continue into Tasmania culminating in the Australian Alps ; in the central part, the Murray-Darling and Lake Eyre basins, which correspond to an area of lowlands; in the western part, finally, a series of plateaus and desert areas. In front of the north-eastern coast, the Great Barrier Reef extends for about 2500 km. For a more in-depth analysis of physical traits ➔ Australia.
According to 800zipcodes, most of the population (95.2%) is descended from Italian, German, Dutch but above all British immigrants, who colonized the country from the end of the century. 18 °. The Aborigines, valued at ca. 450,000 units, almost all of them live in reserves in the northern and central areas of the country; just under 30% of them live in New South Wales and a not much lower share in Queensland, the remainder is mainly distributed in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Like all the countries of recent settlement, the Australia has a young population by age group, whose structural characteristics (education, professionalism, etc.) show, however, the signs of a notable ‘maturity’ due, in large part, to the selective measures adopted for some time to keep immigration under control,
Despite the very low population density, the urbanization rate is very high (about 92% in 2004). The Aborigines themselves do not escape the tendency to urbanize: over a quarter of them live in metropolises and a part in smaller urban centers. In the larger cities they tend to be concentrated in mostly degraded suburbs, in most cases real ghettos; this is one of the numerous elements that reveal the still low social conditions of the Aborigines, together with other indicators, such as eg. the infant mortality rate, which is more than double that recorded for the rest of the population.
The density is greater in the south-eastern corner of the country, where a new area of great demographic density is being formed, centered on the four large metropolises of Brisbane, Adelaide and above all Sydney and Melbourne (respectively of over 4,350,000 and 3,700,000 in 2005, considering the entire urban agglomerations, resulting from a series of uninterrupted urban settlements for tens of kilometers). On the other hand, Perth at the south-western end is distant and isolated, smaller in size but experiencing strong growth, also due to the attraction it exerts on Asian immigrants.
The largest number of immigrants (to whom the increase in the population recorded in Australia during the 1990s is due) in fact comes from countries of South-East Asia (1.3% of the population), both for the geographical proximity and for the strong demographic pressure existing in the countries of origin and for the significant component formed by political refugees, mostly coming from Asian countries.
In the field of architecture and urban planning, alongside the most well-known events, such as the competitions for the Canberra master plan (1911, won by W. Burley Griffin) and for the Sydney Opera (1956, won by J. Utzon) or the construction of the new parliament in Canberra (1985, arch. Mitchell, Giurgola and Thorp), it is worth mentioning the work of H. Seidler (1923-2006, of Austrian origin, from 1948 in Australia), of C. Madigan (b. 1921), K. Woolley (b. 1933), G. Murcutt (b.1936), P. Corrigan (b.1941). With the overcoming of the dependence on western import trends, in the last decades of the century. 20 ° architecture in Australia has become the interpreter of an interesting indigenous design and construction culture. Alongside the skyscrapers and large multifunctional and specialized complexes of major cities, which are confronted with the languages and technologies of western metropolises, less striking architectural expressions coexist on a dimensional level, but significant for the tendency to be rooted in local specificities. Murcutt’s achievements, in particular, although initially marked by European rationalism, seem to have risen in the years to model an ‘Australian architectural form’ suggested by local colonial tradition (Magney House, 1982-84; Meagher House, 1988-92; Marika-Alderton House, 1991-94; Riversdale Art Center, 1995 -98). Seidler’s lesson, marked by a reinterpretation of the International Style, remains alive instead between prominent figures, such as J. Andrews, and important studies (Archer, Mortlock, Murray & Wolley). Closer to the high-tech address are Cox Sanderson Ness studio (National Sports Stadium and National Indoor Sports and Training Center in Bruce, Canberra, 1977-79; Cricket Ground in Sydney, 1988; Darling Harbor, Australia bicentennial exhibition center, 1988; National Identity Museum in Ballart, 1998) and the Denton Corker Marshall studio (Australian embassy in Tokyo, 1990; General Teaching Building for Monash University in Melbourne, 1993; Governor Macquarie tower and Governor Philip tower in Sydney, 1993; Melbourne Exhibition Center, 1996; Melbourne Museum, 2000). Among the works influenced by pop culture by deconstructionist tendencies, we note, respectively: New National Museum of Australia in Canberra (Lell Studio Ashton Raggart McDougall, 2001) and the arrangement of Federation Square in Melbourne (Lab Architecture Studio, 2002). In 2005 the first edition of an architecture and design Biennale took place in Canberra, set up with the aim of enhancing the new trends in the sector.