Australia – an Apple store is coming to a cultural precinct near you!
In its early life, Federation square was known to many Melbournians for its controversial style and architecture and for many, it has been a love-hate relationship. However, in more recent times it has found its place in our hearts, minds and streetscape, now having realised its original purpose as a treasured community space and cultural hub.
Yesterday, Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam lost a disallowance motion to block planning permission for the concept store on public land in Melbourne. Although the Greens have vowed not to give up, the controversial store will go ahead after the Coalition voted to back Labor’s plan.
20 years ago, Apple was dubbed a marketing company, not a technology company by commentators – and this is entirely in keeping with how they operate to this day. With Federation Square in Apple’s sights, this use of public land synonymous with culture and community lends so much more to their brand than just a store location. This is why they have made an offer to the government that perhaps, we must hope – is too good to refuse – though the Premier Daniel Andrews and planning minister Richard Wynne have refused to release the specifics of Apple’s proposal – which fails to provide an opportunity to “pass the pub test” of public opinion.
So what will this look like? Picture the next launch of the latest iPhone; hundreds of people will line up in the square to get their hands on the newest release, news reporters countrywide will cross to the Apple Flagship Store in Federation Square – in an Apple executive’s mind, it’s a pretty picture.
In my mind, by offering up a slice of our community space to this tech giant we are handing over more than our personal data or the space in our pocket, but a place in our cultural landscape.
What do you think?