Five designs to make Fed Square East proud

What happened to Federation Square East (FSE)? Did it slide into the murky depths of the Yarra?

Last year the project had progressed to a point where EVOLVE Development founder Ron Walker was splashed across the media, drumming up support for $680 million bid to expand the precinct. Urban Melbourne also knew of one of Australia's largest developers who had also prepared a submission with the intention of snaring the site for a landmark development.

Alas like Flinders Street Station's overhaul and the Jolimont Railyards decking project, Federation Square East has fallen off the radar. Major Projects Victoria website states "The feedback received from the market has been provided in an Options Analysis which is being considered by Government." Options Analysis, is that code for no time soon?

Prior to offering forward five existing designs that I feel if transplanted in Federation Square East would suit it perfectly, I'll assert that Federation Square East should be devoid of any tall (beyond 15 level) buildings. The delineation that Flinders Street provides should not be broken by excessive towers which for mine would detract from the built form balance that should only be enhanced by Federation Square East.

The chosen five

Jean Nouvel: Philharmonie de Paris

Jean Nouvel's Philharmonie de Paris. Image courtesy Dezeen Magazine

Modern and uniform in appearance, Jean Nouvel's Paris Concert Hall provides a stark contrast to the surrounding built form of Flinders Street and Federation Square itself. In situ at FSE and surrounded by greenery or other ancillary buildings, it would look incredible.

Asymptote: Kaohsiung Marine Gateway

A light and modern solution. Image © Asymptote

Yes it's a harbour terminal but the notion remains the same. Asymptote's design transplanted at FSE would see a flowing, modern superstructure with multiple venues located under the one roof. Partly elevated, the complex would see greenery below the elevated elements while still providing an overall modern juxtaposition to its immediate surrounds.

Sériès et Sériès: Taichung City Cultural Center

Taichung City Cultural Center. Images courtesy Evolo

Bulky and economically unviable? Probably, but it is a statement! There's something enticing about having Birrarung Marr continue seamlessly into a new FSE

The success of the cultural center lies in the ability of the built environment to actually inspire the residents to look beyond the common and expected, materialistic and the easily consumed, in favor of the stimulating and daring. The the Taichung Fine Arts Museum and Library is designed to become a sustainable landmark.


Striking a mix

New Ordos Museum, Kaohsiung Port Terminal & New Dalian Planning Museum . Images courtesy Evolo

Multiple architects contributing their individual design to FSE similar in scope and scale to what Zaha Hadid, RTA-Office and 10 Design have conceived above. Ideally FSE would not be seeded to a developer and likely single architect, rather transferred to a body such as Places Victoria (if they were in any way capable), who would in turn gather the best design put forward.

There's something captivating about having the best of the best selected designs side by side in such a prominent position... ahh wait reality is calling.

Peddle Thorp: Biocity

Biocity. Image © Peddle Thorp

OK so it's a little old and completely out there but Melbourne-based Peddle Thorp ticked all the boxes with this 2008 concept for FSE.

The Cycle of Life, closely linked to our most precious resource, formalises this urban extension above a city railyard. Composed of five blocks interconnected by a rainforest atrium, pedestrians are free to wander the whole of the ground level through public spaces designed as a plateau, canyon or valley.

Australian Design Review

Why highlight Federation Square East

I've chosen buildings that convey a grand, almost homogenous exterior that clash nicely with the varied built form surrounding FSE. This is similar to what Herzog And De Meuron's Flinders Street Station design would have achieved with its singular roof structure.

Federation Square East is an incredibly rare opportunity to deliver a truly recognisable structure (avoiding the term landmark) rather than merely another skyscraper or the like. An opportunity to deliver something out of the box, or is that out of the rail yards? Just make it soon...


MelbourneGuy's picture

It would be great if something akin to the Sydney Opera House could be designed for this spot. It may result in the icon that Melbourne has been searching for.

Back to top
Melbourne_Fragments's picture

Melbourne doesn't need an icon, it's streets and laneways and city life are an icon

Back to top
Nabru Design JP's picture

Any development on the FSE site must focus on creating strong links between the CBD grid and the Birrarung Marr river side precinct. Pedestrian connections through to the north bank of the Yarra River are notoriously poor due to the rail infrastructure. Federation Square although improving permeability, still does not make strong connections through to the river and effectively obstructs this valuable asset. Built form in FSE must provide abundant and inviting public access and vistas through to Birrarung Marr.

Back to top
My Real Estate Mate logo

Development & Planning

Friday, October 21, 2016 - 00:00
Following its acquisition of Waterfront City late in 2014, current owners Ashe Morgan have moved to further reinvent and reposition the precinct, which includes Harbour Town and the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel as major drawcards. The first stage of overhaul works which were concentrated on Harbour Town are concluding. These...

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 14:30
On Monday 24th of October, the iCities: World Class CBDs series conference kicks off. First held in Kuala Lumpur, this year's conference is to be held at the Langham Hotel on Southbank. iCities is owned and operated by iProperty Group, a network property under the REA Group umbrella brand. Over...


Visual Melbourne

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 17:00
Melbourne’s architectural landscape is a wonderful juxtaposition of modern and Victorian architecture. Although the CBD has been peppered with many skyscrapers, its historical structures have won Melbourne the title of “Australia’s most European city”. Perhaps the most striking example of this juxtaposition between old and new is the Coops Shot...

Transport & Design

Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 07:00
108 Leicester Street is a collection of eight multi-level Fitzroy townhouses that have been designed to respond to the changing face of multi-residential living in Melbourne. The hybrid inner-city dwellings combine developer/builder FOURSQ with Melbourne firm BKK Architects. The design acknowledges the housing typologies of the development's Fitzroy neighbourhood with...

Sustainability & Environment

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - 00:00
The proposed new Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM) on Sturt Street is shaping to become much more than a cutting edge venue. While the project has been given coverage to date across a range of mediums, very little has been said regarding the project playing an integral part in the...