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LAB's winner squares up to changes in Melbourne

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One year after winning the competition to design Melbourne's Federation Square, a new cultural and civic space, lab has redesigned it, taking into account changes to 40 per cent of the functional brief. The scheme, which sits on a concrete deck above the main railway lines and links Melbourne's central business district to the river and cultural quarter, still includes a civic square, cine-media centre and winter garden, but now also includes the Museum of Australian Art and the local headquarters for Australia's multicultural broadcaster, sbs.

The design concept, of irregular forms which meld together at ground level, has proved robust enough to absorb the changes. The civic space slopes upwards above a labyrinth which will act as a cool sink, lowering the temperature in the atrium by 10degreesC and providing precooling for the cine-media centre.

The surface of the buildings consists of giant concrete tiles in 'pinwheel triangles' that can be broken down into smaller similar elements, represented in zinc, sandstone or glazing. This approach removes the need for strict differentiation between elements, and combinations of these smaller elements are used to form the irregular spaceframe of the atrium.

Peter Davidson and Donald Bates, the duo who make up lab and who have been largely based in the uk since 1982, have moved to Melbourne, working in joint venture with local practice Bates Smart. They are working closely with Atelier Ten as environment engineer and Atelier One as facade engineer and special structures engineer.

The project costs A$220 million and is due for completion in January 2001. Hyder is the civil and superstructure engineer.

See People, page 28

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