Foster and Partners’ Apple Fed Square design to be supervised by steering committee

The Victorian government has formed a steering committee to guide the design development of a new building for an Apple store at Federation Square to be designed by Foster and Partners.

A statement on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s (DELWP) website says, “In response to the issues raised by the City of Melbourne, a steering committee has been formed to provide feedback throughout the design development process.”

The steering committee is made up of representatives from the City of Melbourne, the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, Federation Square and DELWP.

The committee held an initial workshop on 7 February, which heard presentations from Federation Square architect Donald Bates on the original design of the square and representatives of Foster and Partners on the evolution of the store’s concept design.

The workshop resulted in the development of a set of design principles to guide the refinement of the design, which the committee has agreed to.

The principles require the design of the new building to “respond to and acknowledge” the context of the Hoddle Grid and Yarra river corridor.

It also requires the design to “make a civic contribution in terms of its architecture and relationship to the public realm.”

“The new building should be considered in terms of its contribution as a design legacy for Fed Square and central Melbourne: not as a generic response, nor as a stand-alone building but as part of an assembly of campus buildings,” the document states.

The committee also agreed that the design should consider the potential future reuse of the building and that it should “provide an adaptable building format ensure its long term legacy.”

The proposed Apple Federation Square store by Foster and Partners.

The proposed Apple Federation Square store by Foster and Partners.

The principles also stated the design should acknowledge and respond to the design cues of the existing Federation Square context, including references to its non-orthogonal planning, geometry, layered and varied facade and bespoke materiality.

The square’s catenary lighting “must be appropriately integrated with the new design” and it also “must be developed to showcase exemplary [Environmentally Sustainable Design] outcomes and aim to achieve a six-star Green Star rating.”

The department said, “Apple and Foster and Partners are in the process of considering the agreed principles in refining their concept design. They will present back to the Steering Committee, which will in turn provide input and feedback.”

The City of Melbourne received more than 800 submissions on the Apple store proposal, with an overwhelming number opposed to the building. The council, through its representative on the steering committee, “can also be guided by the public submission it has received in providing its design feedback.”

Citizens for Melbourne, a group that formed in opposition to the proposal, called on the government to scrap its plans.

“The announcement is a procedural response to the City of Melbourne,” said Tania Davidge, architect and president of Citizens for Melbourne. “Of course a project of this significance requires both a steering committee and robust design principles to guide it. However, this still does not address the fact that that the community needs to be consulted on this project in a genuine and meaningful way.

“The announcement is simply an attempt to deflect growing public criticism. We would like to see the Andrews Government commit to working alongside the community to find an alternative location for Apple outside Fed Square.”

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