The essence of the city, it is said, is embraced in the architecture of Federation Square. Whether defined as encompassing the basic nature, or an indispensable quality, much of it is to be found in these visionary structures. Melbourne has been nominated the world’s most liveable city and has now gained a futuristic precinct, which defines both its appeal and its welcome.
“Federation Square is one of the most ambitious and complex projects ever undertaken in Victoria. It is a complete new city block, the first ever to physically connect the central business district with the Yarra River. Situated at the heart of central Melbourne, Federation Square will be a fusion of arts and events, leisure, hospitality and promenading.”
Federation Square Management
The State Government of Victoria has established a management company, Federation Square Management Pty Ltd, to act as client and director of the project and run Federation Square in perpetuity on a commercial basis. The company comprises of a board of three directors, its management team and staff.
Federation Square’s Design
Federation Square’s design is the product of an international architectural competition won in July 1997 by Lab architecture studio of London in association with Bates Smart Architecture of Melbourne. Atelier One were appointed Project Structural Engineers. The judging panel said of the winning design: “It draws its inspiration from the unique characteristics of Melbourne’s arcades and laneways, and transforms these elements into a new form of organization, celebrating the city. The design will invite pedestrians to explore a complex and urban linkage of open and closed spaces, a set of different amenities brought together in the architectural equivalent of Federation”
As Federation Square Management describes, “The area is designed with extensive flow, integrating activities across the site, and forming links within it, as well as with the Yarra River, Arts Centre, Southgate and the Central Business District. Federation Square’s architectural intent is to generate visual harmony for the site while maintaining differences between its civic, cultural and commercial buildings. The approach creates distinctions through a high degree of surface and material variation. The creative use of the ‘pin wheel’ triangular grid, in which every panel is exactly the same size with only the orientation changing, as the modular basis for this system allows both façade cladding and frame shapes to be treated in a continually changing visually dynamic way. On the main buildings three cladding materials have been used – sandstone, zinc and glass.
Forming a north-south link from Flinders Street to the Yarra River, the Atrium is a large, high volume public thoroughfare and covered meeting space. This glass-enclosed galleria provides a sheltered extension of the Plaza, and acts as the forecourt to the National Gallery of Victoria: Australian Art. Open at the northern end, the Atrium allows 24-hour access across Federation Square linking the city to the river. The southern half of the Atrium steps down from the elevated level of the riverside promenade, and has been designed to operate as a casual chamber amphitheatre, with an acoustic tuned interior. The open-frame structure of the Atrium has been developed using parts of the same triangular geometry as the facades, but forms a three- dimensional framing system, glazed both inside and outside. The 7,500m2 Plaza has been designed as the new civic focus for Melbourne, capable of holding about 10,000 people. The Plaza will be paved with sandstone from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, featuring striking reds, maroons, purple and gold surfaces. Federation Square utilises an environmentally sensitive building design. Innovative air-conditioning has been integrated within the building design to achieve significant, long term cost savings. Underneath the Plaza, traditional passive cooling technologies on a large scale eliminate the need for energy-hungry air-conditioning for the glazed Atrium.”