World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Federation Square

Federation Square
Type Public space
Location Melbourne, Australia
Area 3.2 hectares
Created 26 October 2002
Operated by Fed Square Pty Ltd. (State Trustees Ltd for State of Victoria)
Visitors 80 million
Open All year
Public transit access Flinders Street Station

Federation Square is a mixed-use development in the inner city of Melbourne, covering an area of 3.2 hectares and centred on two major public spaces: open squares (St. Paul's Court and The Square) and one covered (The Atrium), built on top of a concrete deck above busy railway lines. It is located at intersection between Flinders Street and Swanston Street/St Kilda Road in Melbourne's Central Business District, adjacent to Melbourne's busiest railway station.


  • History 1
    • Background 1.1
    • First plans 1.2
    • Design competition and controversy 1.3
    • Construction 1.4
    • Further expansion 1.5
  • Location and layout 2
  • Design features 3
    • Square 3.1
    • Plaza and giant screen 3.2
    • Buildings 3.3
    • Shards 3.4
    • Laneways 3.5
    • Riverfront 3.6
    • Atrium 3.7
    • Labyrinth 3.8
  • Facilities and Tenants 4
    • Melbourne Visitor Centre 4.1
    • The Edge 4.2
    • Zinc - Function and Event Centre 4.3
    • National Gallery of Victoria 4.4
    • ACMI – Australian Centre for the Moving Image 4.5
    • Transport Hotel Bar 4.6
    • SBS Television and Radio Headquarters 4.7
    • Melbourne Festival Headquarters 4.8
    • Beer Awards 4.9
    • Past Tenants 4.10
  • Reception and Recognition 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9



Melbourne's first public square, an initiative of the Melbourne City Council was the City Square which dates back to 1968 was considered by many to be a planning failure. Its redevelopment in the 1990s failed to address serious flaws in its design as a public space and it was during this decade that the first plans for a new square were hatched by the Victorian state government.

First plans

The site selected was immediately south of the

  • Federation Square
  • Federation Square "FedCam"
  • Culture Victoria – images and video of Federation Square and the history of the site

External links

  • 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), 19 October 2002.

Further reading

  1. ^ Fiona Whitlock (9 December 1996). "Demolitions days". The Age (Melbourne: Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  2. ^ "Federation Square: A Future About Shatters". Architecture Australia. November–December 1997. Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  3. ^ Gabriella Coslovich (26 April 2003). "The Square's vicious circle". The Age (Melbourne: Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  5. ^ Coslovich, Gabriella Federation Square gets $56 million handout Herald Sun. 27 April 2002
  6. ^ Coslovich, Gabriella Federation Square captures the heart of a city The Age 11 October 2003
  7. ^;fileType%3Dapplication/pdf
  8. ^ a b c "FEDERATION SQUARE OPEN TO PUBLIC FROM OCTOBER 26". MINISTER FOR MAJOR PROJECTS Media Release. 18 October 2002. Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  9. ^ [3]
  10. ^ Johnston, Matt Bold vision for redevelopment of Federation Square East Herald Sun, 25 October 2010
  11. ^ Federation Square: Fun Facts
  12. ^ Brown-May, A and Day, N (2003) Federation Square, South Yarra, Vic: Hardie Grant Books (ISBN 1-74066-002-1)
  13. ^ Federation Square named among world's ugliest buildings on Virtual Tourist website
  14. ^ "Melbourne's Federation Square among world's ugliest buildings". 23 November 2009. 
  15. ^ [4] Art Nation - Good Bad or Ugly - Federation Square, 20 May 2011
  16. ^ Federation Square: Fun Facts
  17. ^ Crawford, Carly [Federation Square named among world's ugliest buildings on Virtual Tourist website] Herald Sun 23 November 2009
  18. ^ Substance trumps style in Federation Square. Australian Financial Review, 10 December 2006
  19. ^ Byrnes, Mark (28 October 2011). "The Best and Worst of the World's Central Plazas and Squares", The Atlantic Cites. Retrieved 14 August 2012.


See also

The Australian Financial Review later reported that Melburnians have learned to love the building, citing the record number of people using and visiting it.[18] In 2005 it was included on The Atlantic Cities' 2011 list of "10 Great Central Plazas and Squares".[19]

The designers of Federation Square did not get any work for six months after the completion of the A$450 million public space, but did receive hate-mail from people who disliked the design.[17]

After its opening on 26 October 2002,[8] Federation Square remained controversial among Melburnians due to its unpopular architecture, but also because of its successive cost blow outs and construction delays (as its name suggests, it was to have opened in time for the centenary of Australian Federation on 1 January 2001). The construction manager was Multiplex.[16]

In 2009, Virtual Tourist awarded Federation Square with the title of the 'World's Fifth Ugliest Building'.[13] Criticisms of it ranged from its damage to the heritage vista to its similarity to a bombed-out war-time bunker due to its "army camouflage" colours. A judge from Virtual Tourist justified Federation Square's ranking on the ugly list claiming that: "Frenzied and overly complicated, the chaotic feel of the complex is made worse by a web of unsightly wires from which overhead lights dangle."[14] It continues to be a "pet hate" of Melburnians and was recently discussed on ABC's Art Nation[15]

A tram on Flinders Street, with the East Shard and the ACMI building in the background.

Reception and Recognition

  • "Champions" – The Australian Racing Museum & Hall of Fame
  • National Design Centre

Past tenants have included:

Past Tenants

Federation Square has recently become home to several beer award shows, and tastings, including the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) trade and public shows as well as other similar events such as showcases of local and other Australian breweries. These events have been held in the square's indoor outdoor area the Atrium and usually require an entry fee in exchange for a set number of tastings.

Beer Awards

The headquarters of Melbourne Festival (formerly Melbourne International Arts Festival) are located on Level 2 of the Yarra Building.

Melbourne Festival Headquarters

The Melbourne television and radio headquarters of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), one of Australia's two publicly funded national broadcasters is in one of the office buildings along Flinders Street.

SBS headquarters.

SBS Television and Radio Headquarters

Transport hotel and bar is a three level hotel complex adjacent to the southern shard on the south western corner of the square. It has a ground floor public bar, restaurant and cocktail lounge on the rooftop.

Transport Hotel Bar

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.

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.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

ACMI – Australian Centre for the Moving Image

The National Gallery at Federation Square also features the NGV Kids Corner, which is an interactive education section aimed at small children and families, and the NGV Studio.

Well-known works at the Ian Potter Centre include Frederick McCubbin's Pioneers (1904) and Tom Roberts' Shearing 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.

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.

Ian Potter Centre entry.

National Gallery of Victoria

Zinc is a premiere event and function center located next to The Edge theatre. It is primarily popular with corporate events, weddings and ceremonies.

Zinc - Function and Event Centre

The Edge theatre is a 450-seat space designed to have views of the Yarra River and across to the spire of The Arts Centre. The theatre is lined in wood veneer in similar geometrical patterns to other interiors in the complex. The Edge was named "The BMW Edge" until May 2013 when a new sponsorship deal with Deakin University caused it to be renamed "The Deakin Edge".

The Edge Theatre seating.

The Edge

The Melbourne Visitor Centre is located underground with its entrance at the main corner shard directly opposite Flinders Street Station and St Pauls Cathedral and its exit at the opposite shard. The entrance and exit shards feature interactive news tickers in colour LEDs and small screens promoting current activities. The Visitor Centre was intended to replace a facility which was previously located at the turn of the 19th Century town hall administration buildings on Swanston Street.

Flinders Street Station and the stunted glass Eastern Shard, entry to the Melbourne Visitor Centre.

Melbourne Visitor Centre

In addition to a number of shops, bars, cafés and restaurants, Federation Square's cultural facilities include:

Facilities and Tenants

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

During winter, the process is reversed, storing warm daytime air in the Labyrinth overnight, and pumping it back into the atrium during the day.

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.

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 1600 m2. The walls have a corrugated profile to maximize their surface area, and are spaced 60 cm apart.


The "atrium" is one of the major public spaces in the precinct. It is a laneway-like space, five-stories high with glazed walls and roof. The exposed metal structure and glazing patterns follow the pinwheel tiling pattern used elsewhere in the precinct's building facades.[12]

Glass walls of the atrium space.


The riverfront areas extend south to an elevated pedestrian promenade which was once part of Batman Avenue and is lined with tall established trees of both deciduous exotic species and Australian eucalpyts. More recently, the vaults adjacent to the Princes Bridge have been converted into Federation Wharf, a series of cafes and boat berths. Some of the areas between the stairs and lanes leading to the river are landscaped with shady tree ferns.


There are a number of unnamed laneways in the Federation Square complex which connect it to both Flinders Street and the Yarra River via stairways. The stairways between the Western Shard and nearby buildings are also paved in larger flat rectangle sandstone blocks.


Three shards frame the square space. The eastern and southern shards are completely clad in metallic surfaces with angular slots, very similar in design to the Jewish Museum Berlin, while the western shard is clad in glass. Adjoined to the southern shard is a hotel which features the wrap around metallic screen and glass louvers.

St Paul's Cathedral and the eastern shard.


While there are slight variations, the main bulk of its buildings follow a similar theme with a complex geometrical design featuring a mix of zinc, perforated zinc, glass and sandstone tiles over a metal exoskeletal frame in a complex geometrical pattern composed entirely of scalene triangles. The aperiodic tiling pattern is based on the pinwheel tiling developed by John Conway and Charles Radin. The triangle is formed with dimensions 1,2, \sqrt 5. This "fractal facade" is contrasted with sections featuring use of metal like surfaces including randomly slotted metallic screens and transparent glass walls tinted with a slightly green tinge.[11]

The interiors and exteriors can be described as being of a deconstructivist style, with modern minimalist shapes interspersed with geometry and angular slots.

Federation Square's unique sandstone building façades.


A key part of the plaza design is its large and 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 assembled to watch.

The large screen is used for public events. Pictured is a telecast of Kevin Rudd's parliamentary apology to the stolen generations.

Plaza and giant screen

There are a small number of landscaped sections in the square and plaza which are planted with Eucalyptus trees.

The complex of buildings forms a rough U-shape around the main open-air square, 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[8] 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.

Main square paving.


Design features

Night panorama of Federation Square.
360° panorama of Federation Square.

Federation Square occupies roughly a whole urban block bounded by Swanston, Flinders, and Russell Streets and the Yarra River. The open public square is directly opposite Flinders Street Station and St Paul's Cathedral. The layout of the precinct is designed to connect the historical central district of the city with the Yarra River and a new park Birrarung Marr.

Federation Square from Eureka Tower Skydeck.

Location and layout

Several proposals have been prepared for the area now known as Federation Square East, including covering the remaining area of railyards to the east of the main square. This has included proposals for office towers and, more recently, a combination of open space and a hotel.[10]

In 2006 Federation Wharf extended Federation Square to the Yarra River, by redeveloping the vaults under the Princes Bridge into cafes and ferry terminals with elevator access to Federation Square.

Further expansion

The square was opened on 26 October 2002.[8] Unlike many Australian landmarks, it was not opened by the reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, nor was she invited to its unveiling; she visited Federation Square in October 2011.[9]

The final cost of construction was approximately A$467 million (over four times the original estimate) and funding came primarily from the state government with small contributions from the City of Melbourne, federal government, private operators and sponsors.[7]

Budgets on the project blew out significantly mainly due to the cost of covering the railyard and modifications to the design and there were long delays.[5][6] Among measures taken to cut costs was concreting areas originally designed for paving.

After a change of government during its construction, and the incoming Labor administration ordered a significant design revision to appease conservative critics. A later report drawn up by the University of Melbourne's Professor Evan Walker postulated that the westernmost shard would interfere with a so-called "heritage vista", a view of the cathedral from the middle of the tram tracks on Princes Bridge to the south.[4]


SBS were announced as an anchor tenant of the office space component of Federation Square. While office space was always intended as a way to fund some of the construction of the square, it was intended that tenants be public or cultural organisations in line with the philosophy of the public space. ACMI and the National Gallery were announced as other major tenants.

An architectural design competition was announced by premier Jeff Kennett in 1997 that received 177 entries from around the world.[2] The design brief was to better connect Flinders Street to the Yarra River and to enhance and complement the neighbouring heritage buildings including St Paul's Cathedral and Flinders Street Station. Several shortlisted designs, which included entries from high profile architects Denton Corker Marshall and Ashton Raggatt McDougall, were displayed to the public. The winner, however, announced in 1997 was a consortium of Lab Architecture Studio directed by Donald Bates and Peter Davidson from London, Karres en Brands Landscape Architects directed by Sylvia Karres and Bart Brands and local architects Bates Smart.[3] The original design which was costed at between A$110 and $128 million included several five-storey "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, accentuating its size in a similar perspective inspired by the piazza of St. Peter's Basilica. A series of interconnected laneways and stairways would connect Flinders Street to the Yarra River with the open square featuring a large viewing screen for public events. These elements were widely supported by the design community and promoted as fulfilling the design criteria whilst also embracing the growing popularity of Melbourne's laneways. However, Lab's design was also source of great controversy causing outrage among heritage advocates, primarily due to the positioning of one of the shards.

Design competition and controversy

buildings which obstructed a vista of heritage buildings along Flinders Street including St Paul's Cathedral. Gas and Fuel Corporation The government sought to remove what were considered to be two of Melbourne's great eyesores, demolishing the 1960s [1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.