Guidebook Federation Square

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Federation Square

Fed Square (Australians love to abbreviate everything), located at the central heart of the city, is “as different and peculiar as if it came from another culture altogether,” says Architecture Australia, “the edges blur – it doesn’t exactly bleed or merge into the city but becomes fuzzy against it.”

A conglomerate of attractions is centred on a large open piazza-style area cobbled with misshapen paving,” writes Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia. “It’s worth visiting ‘Fed Square’ just to see the architecture, made up of strange geometrical designs, and the glass Atrium.”

What is Federation Square?

The basis of the design concept for Federation Square – or at least the cladding on the buildings – is the triangle,” observes Melbourne Insight Guide.” This one is split into five constituent parts, which give it the flexibility to wrap its way around the jagged irregular surfaces. It comes in stone, glass, zinc and dramatic conflations of all three to create what we now know to be a ‘fractal façade’.”

Federation Square hasn’t been the site of any great political event, civic turmoil or ritual,” says Australian news website Crikey. “Its claim is it simply works extraordinarily well as a place for people to meet for the decidedly modest routines of daily life in a rich city. Not everyone likes the look of it (it’s even made some world’s ugliest buildings lists) but in my view it succeeds in creating a grand sense of occasion … it was conceived from the outset as a cultural precinct rather than just a run-of-the mill entertainment mall. There are powerful reasons to go to Federation Square over and above the customary restaurants and bars – these include the Ian Potter Art Gallery, Australian Centre for the Moving Image and the giant public screen.”

Once there, you can slip in to the Ian Potter Centre. “This fascinating gallery, featuring 20 rooms dedicated to Australian art, is in the heart of Federation Square,” explains Frommer’s Easy Guide to Australia. The gallery contains the largest collection of Australian art in the country (although only about 800 pieces of the 20,000-piece collection are on display), with Aboriginal art and colonial collections the centrepieces.

“Australian indigenous art is the oldest continuing tradition of art in the world. Initial forms of artistic Aboriginal expression were rock carvings, body painting and ground designs, which date back more than 30,000 years. The quality and variety of the art produced is recognised throughout Australian and the world for its strength and vitality deriving from traditions that emphasised the continuous links between art, place, spirituality and storytelling. Introduced media such as paint, printmaking, fabric painting, ceramics and glassware now complement traditional arts and crafts.” Meyer Eidelson, Melbourne Dreaming

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