Civic arches are static monuments that have difficulty identifying with the modern urban condition. In the past the arch has not identified themselves as objects for ‘the people’. Instead they have been representative of a dominant minority. Historically arches were commissioned by, and were representative of a government, monarch or dictator. For today’s monument to be responsive to ‘the people’ and to remain truly public, what were previously dominant monumental objects must now become accessible in nature, and can no longer be static objects within the cityscape. While responding to its impressive historical precedence, Federation Arch is a contempory series of elements that reflect the time in which it is to stand, one of change, movement, choice and empowerment.
The main focus of Federation Arch is to involve and enable all members of the public to participate in the celebrations of Federation. The arch must therefore allow itself to be accessible, adaptable and familiar in nature, material and language. Through its scale/ scales, its use of recycled timber and the subversion and adaption of what many see as the contempory Melbourne style, Federation Arch lends itself to an accessible and public type of interaction.
Conceptually Federation Arch begins as a timber box blocking off St Kilda Road to pedestrians and vehicles. The movement of ‘the people’ puncture it. The dominant, monumental object is pacified by ‘the everyday’. Parts of the package unfold, as progressively the gift to the people is conceptually unwrapped. Pieces pushed out are th!en strewn along Swanston Street and St Kilda Road. These objects knit into the fabric of the street. The pieces become street furniture; a place to pause, a seat to ponder, a point at which to meet with friends. When traveling from the Carlton end of Swanston Street, the individual recognise a pattern of objects, a building up of parts, until the arch is revealed. No longer is the arch a monument, an object or the end of a vista, instead it is part of a rich journey that is respectful to the past and optimistic about the future.