Apple's "Refined" design for Fed Square unveiled

Laurence DragomirJuly 20, 20180 min read

Fed Square has today released images of a "refined" design for the Apple Global Flagship Store set to be located within the Square, on the site of the current Yarra Building.

The new design is the result of a series of design workshops involving Fed Square Management, the Victorian Government, Melbourne City Council and Apple.

As part of the development, the Apple will provide more than 500 sqm of new public space, outdoor shading, improved connections between the Square and the Yarra River, and will allow for the delivery of more cultural events in addition to boosting visitor numbers - estimated to be an additional two million additional people to Federation Square every year.

According to Fed Square management, the refined design complements Fed Square’s existing buildings and will include a roof design which not only harnesses solar power but also provides solar shading which will enhance the energy efficiency of the building.

'Today at Apple' will be a daily program of free events, using local creative talent to run educational workshops and experiences showcasing local tech, design, art and education communities. 

Apple's "Refined" design for Fed Square unveiled
Apple's refined design for its Flagship Store. Image: Federation Square

(An Apple Global Flagship Store) is consistent with Federations Square’s Civic and Cultural Charter, which recognises Melbourne’s pre-eminence as a centre for creativity and innovation.

- Jonathan Tribe, CEO of Federation Square

Other projects currently underway or set to commence within Fed Square include a new Digital Facade on the Transport Building and the new station entry for Town Hall Station, which replaces the current Visitor Info Centre on the north-west corner. 

Comment

Since the project was first mooted healthy public debate has raged regarding the appropriateness of a private entity such as Apple occupying what is essentially public space, albeit a portion of public space which is largely internalised and currently accommodated within the Yarra Building. 

From a business case point of view, the economics of Apple setting up in Fed Square are best left for someone more knowledgeable than I but I imagine the footfall from Flinders Street Station, the tram stop along Swanston Street and in 7 years time from Town Hall Station, and the prominence of the building's location and visibility both from within the Square itself and from the river were attractive propositions.

As for the design itself, the first iteration released to the public which was dubbed 'the pagoda' due to its roof line.  It provided no real dialogue between the architecture of the existing buildings and appeared as if an alien space ship had landed in the square. 

The latest incarnation takes a more restrained approach with both Prof. Don Bates (LAB Architecture) and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect's (OVGA) Jill Garner having worked to help refine the design. An Apple Flagship store draws attention to itself for the simple fact that it's an Apple store, no ornament or dramatic architecture is required. 

For mine, what is most significant is the improved connections the design and siting provide between the Square and the Yarra.  In addition to the increase in the amount of public open space due to the smaller building footprint - which represents a public benefit - it is not only adding additional open space to the square but also a different type with sloping green verges and additional trees. 

I think the provision of additional open space far outweighs the fact that Apple is building a store within the Square which is a public space. It is replacing an existing building which was added late in the design process of Fed Square and not part of the original plans, and within a much more compact footprint.

Apple's "Refined" design for Fed Square unveiled
Current projects within Fed Square.

It's worth considering Fed Square was always going to evolve. Prof. Bates himself has previously recognised the Square's design has a number of shortcomings which couldn't be addressed within the budget and scope at the time it was designed. I'm however, of the opinion that prior to any significant works being undertaken within the Square, be they cosmetic, a Metro Station or an Apple Store, they should be guided by a set of principles set out in a considered and cohesive Master Plan for the Square which includes appropriate choices of materials, key vistas, desire lines etc.

Finally, the process needs to be transparent, so that due process is followed through the town planning process in the same way any other private entity would be required and allowing for the general public to have their say, whether in support or in objection.

- Sent from my Samsung Galaxy S8

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.
Tags:
Apple Flagship Global Store
Federation Square
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