In 1911 Gimson entered the international competition sponsored by the Australian government for the new state capital at Canberra, New South Wales. Very few British architects entered the competition as the conditions for the judging were not approved by the RIBA.
His design was dominated by an artificial lake created by a weir erected across the river with a covered walkway or arcade running nearly the whole length of the lake. As well as enhancing the landscape, the lake would provide recreational facilities for the city. The focal point of the city centre was the State Hall built on the X or butterfly plan. Gimson’s design also included an industrial area and a garden suburb.
Gimson subsequently explained his reasons for entering in a letter to Lethaby. He wanted to test his ideals of a self-sufficient community in harmony with its surroundings with the needs and demands of a twentieth-century city. It was obviously important to him because the only work he entered to the 1912 Arts and Crafts Exhibition was three drawings relating to the project.
The watercolour drawings below were executed by Alfred Powell to designs by Gimson.
The competition was won by the American architect, Walter Burley Griffin.