Federation Square

Federation Square

Infobox park
park = Federation Square

image size = 191px
type = Public space
location = flagicon|Australia Melbourne, Australia
coordinates = coord|-37.817798|144.968714|display=inline,title
size =
opened = 26 October 2002
operator = Federation Square Pty Ltd
annual visitors =
status = Open all year

Federation Square (also colloquially known as Fed Square) is a cultural precinct in the city of Melbourne, Australia. It comprises a series of buildings containing a public broadcaster, art galleries, a museum, cinemas, exhibition spaces, auditoria, restaurants, bars and shops around two major public spaces, one covered (The Atrium), the other open to the sky, and composed of two spaces that flow into one another (St. Paul's Court and The Square). The majority of the precinct is built on top of a concrete deck over busy railway lines.

Location and layout

Federation Square occupies roughly a whole urban block bounded by Swanston, Flinders, and Russell Streets and the Yarra River. The open public squares are directly opposite Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral. The layout of the precinct helps to connect the historical central district of the city with the Yarra River and a new park Birrarung Marr. This refocusing of the city on the Yarra River also partly reinforces links with the Southbank district, whose redevelopment has been ongoing as a key part of central Melbourne since the late 1980s.

The site of Federation Square has had a variety of former uses. The Gas and Fuel Buildings, Jolimont Yard and the Princes Bridge railway station were the immediate predecessors, [cite web
work=The Age
title=Demolitions days
author=Fiona Whitlock
date=December 9, 1996
] though in the nineteenth century there was a morgue on the site. The result of an international design competition held in 1997 that received 177 entries, [cite web
title=Federation Square: A Future About Shatters
date=November/December 1997
work=Architecture Australia
] Federation Square was designed by Don Bates and Peter Davidson of Lab Architecture Studio.cite web
title=The Square's vicious circle
work=The Age
author=Gabriella Coslovich
date=April 26 2003

Design controversy

When the winning bid was announced in 1997, the design was a source of great controversy, being widely supported by the design community and causing outrage among heritage advocates. There was a change of government during its construction, and the incoming Labor administration ordered a significant design revision to appease conservative critics. The original design included several five storey high 'shards', two of which were free-standing on the north-western edge of the precinct. These two structures were intended to provide a framed view of St. Paul's Cathedral from the St. Paul's Court part of the new plaza. A report drawn up by Evan Walker proposed that the westernmost shard interfered with a so-called "heritage vista", a view of the cathedral from the middle of the tram tracks on Princes Bridge to the south. [cite web
date=February 17, 2000
] A major controversy ensued and a single-storey version was the compromised result.

For a while after its opening on 26 October 2002,cite web
date=October 18, 2002
] Federation Square remained controversial among Melburnians due to its striking architecture, but also because of its cost – $440 million and entirely publicly funded,cite web
type = PDF
] and for the delays in construction (as its name suggests, it was to have opened in time for the centenary of Australian Federation on 1 January 2001).

However, the negativity was short-lived, with approximately 90% of people surveyed reported liking all, or at least parts, of Federation Square. Despite fears that the plaza would remain empty because of its location on the edge of Melbourne's centre, the open space has proved to be a remarkably popular place for all kinds of rallies, performances, cultural gatherings, celebrations and just 'hanging out'. Federation Square is Victoria’s second most popular tourist attraction, and was expected to attract between six and seven million visitors in 2003.

The square

A key part of the plaza design is its large, fixed public screen, which has been used to broadcast major sporting events, such as the AFL Grand Final, and still continues to do so. During the 2006 FIFA World Cup, thousands of football fans braved cold nights to watch the matches on the Federation Square screen.

The complex of buildings forms a rough U-shape around the main open-air squares, oriented to the west. The eastern end of the square is formed by the glazed walls of The Atrium. While bluestone is used for the majority of the paving in the Atrium and St. Paul's Court, matching footpaths elsewhere in central Melbourne, the main square is paved in 470,000 ochre-coloured sandstone blocks from Western Australia and invokes images of the Outback. The paving is designed as a huge urban artwork called 'Nearamnew', by Paul Carter and gently rises above street level, containing a number of textual pieces inlaid in its undulating surface.

Cultural Institutions

In addition to a number of shops, bars, cafés and restaurants, Federation Square's cultural facilities include:
*The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
*The BMW Edge Amphitheatre
*The Melbourne television headquarters of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), one of Australia's two publicly-funded national broadcasters
*Champions: Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame
*National Design Centre
*The Melbourne Tourist Information Centre

Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

The Ian Potter Centre houses the Australian part of the art collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), and is located at Federation Square (international works are displayed at the NGV International on St Kilda Rd). There are over 20,000 Australian artworks, including paintings, sculpture, photography, fashion and textiles, and the collection is the oldest and most well-known in the country.

Well-known works at the Ian Potter Centre include Frederick McCubbin's "Pioneers" (1904) and Tom Roberts' "Shearing of the Rams" (1890). Also featured are works from Sidney Nolan, John Perceval, Margaret Preston and Fred Williams. Indigenous art includes works by William Barak and Emily Kngwarreye.

=ACMI – Australian Centre for the Moving

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image has two cinemas that are equipped to play every film, video and digital video format, with attention to high quality acoustics. The screen gallery, built along the entire length of what was previously a train station platform, is a subterranean gallery for experimentation with the moving image. Video art, installations, interactives, sound art and net art are all regularly exhibited in this space. Additional venues within ACMI allow computer-based public education, and other interactive presentations.

In 2003, ACMI commissioned SelectParks to produce an interactive game-based, site specific installation called AcmiPark. AcmiPark replicates and abstracts the real world architecture of Federation Square. It also houses highly innovative mechanisms for interactive, multi-player sound and musical composition.

Champions: Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame

Champions: Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame holds an array of Australian racing historical items. The Museum and Hall of Fame also has interactive displays, traveling exhibitions and memorabilia.

National Design Centre

The National Design Centre showcases Australian design and includes a shop.

Design features

The Atrium

"The Atrium" is one of the major public spaces in the Federation Square cultural precinct in central Melbourne, Australia. It is a street-like space, five-stories high with glazed walls and roof. The exposed metal structure and glazing patterns follow the fractal geometry used elsewhere in the precinct's building facades. ["Brown-May, A and Day, N" (2003) Federation Square, South Yarra, Vic: Hardie Grant Books (ISBN 1-74066-002-1)]

The Labyrinth

The "Labyrinth" is a passive cooling system sandwiched above the railway lines and below the middle of the square. The concrete structure consists of 1.2 km of interlocking, honeycombed walls. It covers 160 m2. The walls have a zig-zag profile to maximize their surface area, and are spaced 60 cm apart.

During summer nights, cold air is pumped in the combed space, cooling down the concrete, while heat absorbed during the day is pumped out. The following day, cold air is pumped from the Labyrinth out into the Atrium through floor vents. This process can keep the Atrium up to 12 °C cooler than outside. This is comparable to conventional air conditioning, but using one-tenth the energy and producing one-tenth the carbon dioxide.

During winter, the process is reversed, whereby warm daytime air stored in the Labyrinth overnight, to be pumped back into the Atrium during the day.

The system can also partly cool the ACMI building when the power is not required by the Atrium.

Photo Gallery


* Brown-May, A and Day, N (2003) Federation Square, South Yarra, Vic: Hardie Grant Books (ISBN 1-74066-002-1)
* "Melbourne gets square" Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), October 19, 2002.

External links

* [http://www.federationsquare.com.au/ Federation Square]
* [http://www.fedsq.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=55 Federation Square "FedCam"]
* [http://artabase.net/gallery/144-federation-square Federation Square on Artabase]

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