Parramatta’s new living room houses everything from council chambers to podcast studios

There are 19 meeting rooms that can be rented by companies or the public, while two soundproof studios have been set up with audiovisual equipment and a podcast kit that the community can also borrow.

Council will also program yoga classes in a wellness studio, while a separate large ‘maker studio’ has been fitted with a vinyl floor so it can be easily cleaned after art or painting classes.

Parramatta Lord Mayor Donna Davis in the new council chambers.

Parramatta Lord Mayor Donna Davis in the new council chambers.Recognition:Dean Sewell

And the community, too, will be rubbing shoulders with their elected representatives, with the council chambers on the top floor of the building.

The new design of the chambers was internally called “United Nations of Parramatta”; Council members are seated in a horseshoe formation facing the public gallery, and each seat is equipped with a personal audiovisual system linked to a microphone with built-in voting capability. The councilors’ screens – which are also projected onto the visitors’ gallery – show the council’s agenda and changes in real time.

Outside the chambers are framed portraits of each of the 60 Lord Mayors of Parramatta since John Williams first held the role in 1861.

Below, the building’s foyer is covered with art that pays tribute to the city’s aboriginal and migrant history: a world map has been engraved into one wall, onto which 16 vignettes are digitally projected, tracing migratory journeys from around the world into Sydney’s second CBD .

Parramatta Mayor Donna Davis calls the $136 million project the

Parramatta Mayor Donna Davis calls the $136 million project the “missing piece of the puzzle for Parramatta Square.”Recognition:Dean Sewell

It begins in the Dharug language, a homage to the indigenous people of the interior of the greater Sydney area more than 40,000 years ago, and continues to trace southern European migration in the 1950s and 1960s to the Lebanese Civil War and the current wave of skilled migration from China to India and the UK.

Two additional video artworks by local migrant artists are projected onto large screens at the rear of the foyer, interspersed with ambient shots of the Parramatta River, the mangroves, Parramatta Park and the CBD.


The basement is the building’s “discovery space”, where an elongated space with pre-installed lighting technology is available for temporary exhibitions and performances. First up is the Royal Agricultural Society’s celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Easter Show, which began in Parramatta in 1821. An exhibition of historical trophies and show bags is open to visitors this weekend.

For Davis, Phive was intended to be Parramatta’s living room, with double doors spanning an 18-meter opening to allow people and events to flow onto the plaza.

“It’s vibrant, it’s colorful, it’s on a completely different level than any other community building you’ll see anywhere else in Australia. This building is one of a kind – you won’t see it anywhere else – and this is Parramatta,” she said.

The Morning Edition Newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here. Parramatta’s new living room houses everything from council chambers to podcast studios

Joel McCord

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