Design requirements that will define Federation Square East

An Expression of Interest (EOI) campaign to develop Federation Square East is almost upon us, with a release on Monday 15 September 2014 slated. The 3.3 hectare site represents one of Melbourne's most crucial and intriguing development opportunities, with design and public realm parameters allowing for and seeking design excellence.

The development will effectively serve to develop the glaring hole in Melbourne riverfront vista, whilst also acting as a nexus between multiple city precincts.

Public opinion will vary wildly as to what should be delivered onsite, but the EOI document excerpts below go some way to providing guidance as to what the chosen scheme will entail.

Building design

The preferred design outcome is to provide for a generally lower rise development commensurate with the human scale of Federation Square, with the inclusion of discrete, well-designed buildings of greater height in the appropriate locations.

The built form Design Guidelines require:

  • Consistency with the urban scale of Federation Square
  • Some variety in height
  • Active frontages
  • Inviting, public interface to Birrarung Marr negotiating level differences
  • Limited number of high buildings of exceptional design quality
  • Greater height to be located to the north-east of the site
  • Limited overshadowing
  • Compliant with air space protection requirements
Federation Square East EOI overview document

On the face of it there seems to be much leeway in terms of tower height, should the respective entrant include the typology. "Some variety in height" is usurped by the need to be "Compliant with air space protection requirements" which Nicholas Harrison aptly explained. In effect the door is open to deliver a scheme with a tower in the proximity of 300 metres should the applicant so desire.

Is there a better landmark Melbourne development opportunity? Image courtesy Major Projects Victoria

Public realm

Any development of the site is to contribute a significant improvement to the existing public realm by providing connections with adjoining areas, taking advantage of the site’s locale at a junction of the city, parklands, river, sporting and cultural precincts.

The nature and quality of the spaces on the site need to be carefully designed to offer diversity of uses and work as civic spaces and places in their own right. Generally the civic spaces should be intimate rather than catering for large gatherings, which are already served well by Federation Square.

The mixed-use project involving commercial, retail, residential and cultural uses will create:

  • Multiple north-south connections which are not regimented
  • East-west connection from Federation Square
  • Open to the sky and sun
  • Views of the river and to the north
  • Varied, highly considered open spaces of appropriate dimension
  • Visual links within and through the site
  • Protection of Russell Street and Exhibition Street view corridors
Federation Square East EOI overview document


On the face of it Major Projects Victoria look to want another Federation Square-style development with connectivity to Birrarung Marr and the Hoddle Grid. They also seem cognizant that by handing the project over to private interests, a reasonable return on investment from the developer is expected over and above the cost of delivering the deck structure. Hence the ajar door for increased height.

There's a certain intangible to the design brief (height being the most obvious) which should allow for some hugely varied designs from a raft of local and international consortia. Interesting times ahead!

See the EOI overview document for further details.


Chris M's picture

A couple of limiting factors to consider:

1. The limited number of contractors who can carry out a development of this complexity. Building over rail with tricky access and difficult structural aspects is the domain of only a few Aussie contractors. Presumably Multi's would be favourite to do it again.

2. It's hard to think they could/would build structure to support a 300m tower or anything or huge scale with associated carparking. Whilst carparking could be a small component, this would affect saleability (in the case of apartments) and lettability (in the case of office) and therefore market value.

Fed Square East will happen in my lifetime. The timing is of this announcement is of course to to coincide with an expected tight election. It doesn't mean it's happening, it's just the appearance of doing something.

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Purple Dawn's picture

This better not be a publicity stunt!

What's more, I hope it complements but is not another Fed Square. I don't think we need another one of those.

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