• design
  • heritage

21 August 2020

Melbourne’s Federation Square is set to enter a new era with a renewed focus on civic and cultural experiences and the biggest upgrade since its creation.

Federation Square is one of Melbourne’s most important and beloved public spaces and has welcomed 100 million visitors since opening in 2002.

Last year the Victorian Government commissioned a comprehensive review of Federation Square to guide its future and ensure it remains at the heart of Melbourne’s civic and cultural life.

The review, co-chaired by Victorian Government Architect Jill Garner and governance and financial expert Tim Eddy, examined the core purpose of Federation Square, its built environment and its governance and operational arrangements.

More than 1,800 people contributed to the review, which overwhelmingly found that Federation Square is valued as a place to experience arts and culture, to participate in exciting events and festivals, and to come together and celebrate as a community.

The Victorian Government has accepted the recommendations of the review, including the following key actions:

  • Greater recognition and celebration of First Peoples culture and continuing connection to the site.
  • Adoption of a community-driven vision emphasising Federation Square’s cultural and civic impact and the need to enliven the space with captivating experiences
  • A commitment to embrace the Yarra and better connect with the adjacent arts and sports precincts
  • Adherence to design principles and strategies to ensure any future physical changes “must aspire to match the quality of the original”, to be enabled in part by the creation of a design advisory board
  • Incorporating Federation Square in the Government’s Creative Industries portfolio alongside other cultural and civic icons such as National Gallery Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne and State Library Victoria.

A $20 million injection from the Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works stimulus program will support dozens of projects to be undertaken across the site to improve the experience for visitors.

These focus on improving the visitor experience, enhancing events, supporting Federation Square’s cultural partners, improving the food and beverage experience, and enhancing safety and access. Key projects include:

  • A new immersive Regional Experience Centre that will showcase the best of Victoria, from food and wine to music and events.
  • State-of-the-art digital wayfinding displays that will better connect Federation Square to the Yarra and surrounding precincts and make it easier for visitors to navigate the site.
  • New lighting that, as well as making Federation Square safer at night, will accentuate its architecture and enable the precinct to light up for city-wide celebrations and commemorations.
  • Upgrades to the Deakin Edge theatre and Atrium, including replacing screens and seating and improving disability access.

Importantly, this investment will also free up extra capacity for Federation Square to expand its civic and cultural program, including festivals and community activities.

Federation Square is home to The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, ACMI, Koorie Heritage Trust and countless creative events and festivals each year. Under the changes, the Square becomes one of the State-Owned Creative Organisations that Creative Victoria is responsible for. We look forward to sharing more Federation Square news as the upgrade and recommendations of the review are rolled out.

For more on the Federation Square Review and the final report can be found at engage.vic.gov.au/federation-square-review.

Federation Square facts

  • Federation Square hosts more than 2000 events and activations each year, from large scale events in the main square to smaller events throughout the precinct, with many of these events celebrating Melbourne’s multicultural community.
  • The Square is built on a massive deck suspended over railway tracks. This deck is supported by 4000 rubber pads and springs to isolate train vibration and noise.
  • The main square features 469,000 cobblestones made of sandstone from the Kimberley region.
  • Below the square is a thermal labyrinth, a zig-zag maze of corrugated concrete walls running for 1.4km that enable passive cooling or heating of the air, which is then pumped into the Atrium to provide effective and efficient climate control. In summer, this system enables temperatures within the Atrium and Deakin Edge to be roughly 10 degrees cooler than the temperature outside.
  • The Square’s massive screen, the Digital Façade, is five storeys high and comprises 850 LED panels and 4 million pixels.