Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation, supported by funding from the Victorian State Government sought to enhance the evening visitor experience to one of Melbourne’s most iconic arts, culture and public event spaces – Federation Square.

Following two decades of operation preceding the upgrade, the new lighting scheme provided a chance to refresh Federation Square’s illuminated ambience. The lighting upgrade was part of a broader $20M investment into capital works by the Victorian Government which included a series of improvement and maintenance projects to the space.

ARUP was appointed to lead the design element of the major lighting upgrade, with Bluebottle responsible for the control integration and commissioning of the technology which incorporated a range of WE-EF LIGHTING colour-changing luminaires supplied Buckford Illumination Group.

Key objectives of the upgrade centred around improving the night-time experience and perception of safety for visitors as well as the legibility in general and facade presentation of the unique architecture.


Some of the key project considerations for this prominent upgrade included;

  • Precise optical control: Precisely placing light where needed to accentuate the geometric architectural features, without glare was important, with a key focus on improving the lighting to the space with strong environmental considerations and a desire to minimise unnecessary light spill and thus minimise light pollution in the already over illuminated city
  • Colour changing flexibility: With a full calendar of events occurring in the space, there was a strong need to allow for dynamic lighting to bring those events to life in different colours and themes on demand with ease of control – and the power to program lighting on demand
  • Durability and longevity: With a desire for minimal maintenance and downtime to improve long term cost efficiency and luminaires that will last the test of time, the key stakeholders wanted to use exterior luminaires made from high quality, robust, corrosion resistant materials
  • Warranty: Ensuring a comprehensive warranty was of critical importance in delivering peace of mind for the installation
  • Performance and Intensity: Powerful high output floodlights were needed to really saturate the façade
  • Proven quality and continuity: Existing WE-EF inground uplights were already installed at the site and performing well, as such, using the same form factor allowed them to be upgraded in the same locations for continuity
  • Energy savings: By placing light only where it is actually needed in a strategic and sparing manner, the goal was to optimise the lighting to the latest high wattage products and minimise the number of luminaires needed thereby


As a well-established site with active events and a full calendar of varied scheduled events in arts, culture, theatre etc, upgrading lighting needed to be well coordinated to ensure minimised interruptions.

Additionally, the aged existing infrastructure (>20 years old) combined with Heritage Victoria overlay required careful attention to façade fabric and delicate integration of luminaires and mounting restrictions.

Of course, given the prominence of the project, the requirement to liaise with and ensure approval from many important stakeholders was also pivotal to the project’s completion.


The complete upgrade consisted of a range of luminaires, with Buckford Illumination Group supplying a range of a total of more than 80 WE-EF LIGHTING Colour Changing Projectors or ‘Flood Lights’ which featured a combination of RGBW;

– FLC220-CC

Many of these projectors were factory-fitted with special accessories including glare shields or snoots, to ensure light could be precisely directed to highlight and accentuate the features of the façade to ARUP’s design. The FLC200 projectors were used to illuminate the façade of the Alfred Deakin building and Yarra building.

A range of beam angles/lenses were used throughout the project as were special internal accessories like the linear spreader lens.

42 inground uplights were upgraded to ETC340-FS RGBW DMX luminaires, delicately used for the Atrium and Edge glazed structure.

In addition, the project featured WE-EF STL259 step lights to aid safety and wayfinding.

The featured luminaires with DMX were commissioned by Bluebottle with the Pharos control system to enable the dynamic and ever-changing possibilities for the lighting scheme.


Essentially, with a diverse range of events on the calendar, the versatile and responsive lighting system commissioned now enhances these occasions. It also improves wayfinding and creates a welcoming and attractive atmosphere for nighttime visitors to the square.

“This significant upgrade to lighting throughout the Federation Square precinct improves safety, reduces environmental impact and highlights the Square’s iconic architecture”, tells Ilze Kundzina of ARUP.

The upgrade achieved energy reduction, primarily due to the replacement of aged equipment with more modern technology and high-wattage products.

Perhaps most importantly for this project, the “overall system meets the needs of being able to adapt for the everchanging events taking place in the Square”, explains Ilze Kundzina or ARUP.

Furthermore, Ilze explains that the new lighting is not only colour-changing and, it is so dynamic that it “can be programmed artistically to respond to the time of day, add vibrancy to events and mark memorable moments”.

Words by WE-EF
Client: Melbourne Arts Precinct Corporation with funding from Victorian Government
Consulting Engineer: ARUP
Builder: Brolec
Other: Bluebottle
Photography: Ina Parr for WE-EF