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Fosters’ ‘unacceptable’ Melbourne Apple store blocked by heritage authorities

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Foster + Partners’ controversial proposal for an Apple store in Melbourne has been axed after heritage authorities blocked the scheme

Heritage Victoria has refused to grant a permit for the proposal to demolish the Yarra Building, an arts venue at the heart of the city’s iconic Federation Square, to make way for the tech giant’s flagship store.

In his decision letter, executive director Steven Avery said bulldozing the building to make way for the shop would have ’unacceptable and irreversible detrimental impact’ on the plaza’s heritage significance.

It said the new building would be ’visually dominant’ in relation to the existing buildings, and would detract from the ’design language’ of the square.

Following the decision, the state government announced that the proposed store ‘cannot proceed’ and that it will instead be conducting a review of Federation Square’s financial and governance arrangements.

The original 2017 proposal was redesigned by Foster + Partners following widespread criticism that the building resembled a ‘Pizza Hut pagoda’.

However the reworked scheme failed to placate critics, who argued the cultural plaza was the wrong location for a commercial scheme. ’It doesn’t matter how many times Apple redesigns its megastore, Federation Square is still the wrong place,’ the president of campaign group Citizens for Melbourne, Tania Davidgeone said.

The National Trust nominated Federation Square to the Victorian Heritage Register last August, in a bid to stop the Yarra Building from being demolished. 

Previously local politicians in Melbourne had also urged Victoria state parliament to withdraw planning permission for the scheme.

Tania Davidge, president of Citizens for Melbourne, which campaigned against the store, said Heritage Victoria’s decision was ’wonderful news’.

’The Apple store proposal would have changed not only Fed Square’s physical form but also its character; it would have undermined its civic and cultural purpose. Melbourne without a town square is Melbourne without a civic heart,’ she added.

Confirming it was shelving the plans, Apple said it was ’disappointed’ at the decision but that it remained ’committed to serving our customers in Melbourne and across Australia’.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Frances Maria

    Just like its proposed Tulip tower in London, the practice is involved in yet another scheme where complete disregard for heritage is shown. Fortunately in this case, sense has prevailed and the heritage of Melbourne has taken precedence

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