Federation Square Digital Canvas 2018, Australia, Melbourne

Melbourne-based art studio Ramus, sought to transform the traditional media screen into an immersive, expressive canvas.

Melbourne’s Federation Square has undergone a multi-million-dollar technological refurbishment to create what is thought to be the world’s first digital canvas. The digital canvas serves as a public platform for creative and artistic expression, hosting a gallery of digital artworks by emerging and established artists, giving new artists a platform to show their work.

Ramus developed and beautifully integrated a digital canvas into the iconic architectural façade of Federation Square Pty Ltd, offering the public a platform to express their own civic voice. The digital canvas offers communities and visitors a new sense of agency over their environment, seeding the future of meaningfully integrated digital media and architecture. The canvas consists of a curated content program, an LED multiscreen platform and a custom control system, forming one powerfully responsive digital experience. This project is one of the largest singular commitments to digital-based innovation in any Australian cultural setting.





Building or project owner : Federation Square Pty Ltd

Architecture : JMA Architects

Project artist/ concept/ design/ planning : Ramus

Structural engineering : Lambert & Rehbein

Facade design : JMA Architects

Facade construction : Federation Square Pty Ltd

Kinetic engineering : Lambert & Rehbein

Light design : Ramus

Technical layout light : Ramus

Display content/ visuals/ showreel : Ramus

Light hardware (LED hardware) : Big Screen Projects

Lighting control software : Ramus and Iion

Project co-ordination : Ramus

Membrane skin : JMA Architects

Interaction design/ programming : Iion

Project sponsor/ support : Victorian Government


Facade type and geometry (structure) : High resolution LED screens are customized and integrated into the zinc facade of Federation Square.

Kind of light creation : Media Architecture facade with the capability for visuals to be influenced by the weather and human interactivity. This facade contains a highly curated content programme which consists of user-generated content, content by light artist Bruce Ramus and studio, emerging artists and an iconic indigenous Australian artist.

Resolution and transmitting behaviour : The digital canvas consists of a curated content program, an LED multiscreen platform and a custom control system, forming one powerfully responsive digital experience. We present a contemporary art platform that slows Melbourne’s city rhythm and reconnects people to the space and each other.

Pixel distance : High definition 6mm pitch

Urban situation : The digital canvas is located in one of Melbourne's central meeting place, along the Yarra River and across from Flinders St Station. Federation Square covers an area of 3.2 ha (7.9 acres) at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street built above busy railway lines. Federation Square has been embraced by locals and visitors. with more than 10 million visitors yearly.

Description of showreel : See Federation Square's digital canvas up close.

Participatory architecture & urban interaction

Community or communities involved : The curatorial process for educational institutions involved a two-fold engagement process. The first was to establish relationships and collaborate with University connected research institutes and design hubs to generate and re-image content and the second was an opportunity for Departments and Faculty Heads to develop programs for students to respond to and utilize the innovative platform. The digital canvas serves as a public platform for creative and artistic expression, hosting a curated gallery of works by emerging and established artists. A featured work is to be a digital interpretation of All the Fish by renowned Australian Indigenous artist, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarnda Sally Gabori, created through a deeply culturally considerate process, with the support of Gabori’s family. The digital canvas expresses an inclusive, diverse story of Australia, providing a large, accessible platform to express each artists' vision and intent.

Host organization : Ramus

Legal form : Please contact me for more details.

Issues addressed : To ensure Ramus undertook a culturally considered approach, the curatorial process for content created by cultural and social community groups began by engaging with community representational organizations, This was to meaningfully and responsibly engage with diverse communities to generate and curate content that expressed the vision and voices of the people of Melbourne and Victoria.

Impact : Ramus also engaged RMIT university to create content, in an ongoing commitment to not just serve, but also involve the community in the canvas' evolution. Artistic Director Bruce Ramus hosted a series of content development lectures with RMIT University students, teaching them how to develop content to a professional level and instigating their interest in a potential future income stream, as they

Tools developed : Processes - Cultural content curation engagement process, educational content engagement process

Tools used : Software - Custom control to support weather-reactive content, interactivity controls, the ability to add real-time user-generated content

Next steps : There is a limitless potential to involve more emerging artists and push the boundaries by creating more purpose-built responsive new media art.