21/12/2016 3:06 PM AEDT | Updated 21/12/2016 4:29 PM AEDT

Architects Are Trying To Block The Government From Fencing Off Parliament House

There's concern about the character and symbolism of Parliament House.

Andrew Meares/Fairfax
The grass in front of Parliament House in Canberra

CANBERRA -- Australia's peak body for architects is not letting the grass grow on controversial plans to build a new security fence around Parliament House, calling for the $60 million proposal to be immediately put on hold and reviewed.

The Australian Institute of Architects said the proposal to cut off public access to the buildings lawn and erect a 2.6-metre high perimeter fence - as part of a wider security upgrade - will "fundamentally change the character of the building and its symbolism as the people's house."

Last week, in an interview with The Huffington Post Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the security blitz, saying "getting that balance right" on security is "critically important" and said parliament's presiding officers were acting on the "best security advice".

"The parliament is the people's house," Turnbull said. "[But] it is important to get the balance right in terms of security measures, because you obviously you have to provide for all of the people who work there at parliament house and, of course, the visitors who come to Parliament House of which there are many thousands."

But the Australian Institute of Architects has rejected Turnbull's assessment of balance.

'Security requirements bring into conflict the two core principles of keeping people safe while at the same time allowing them access to the building and grounds," national president Professor Ken Maher said in a statement on Wednesday.

"A balance must be struck, but the current proposal fails to deliver on both fronts."

"We have requested that further information be released and discussion entered into about less intrusive options to enhance the security of the building."

Parliament's lawns are a top tourist attraction in Canberra and last Saturday hundreds of light-hearted protesters turned out at Parliament House for a last ditch mass roll before the security fence is erected.