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

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There are 19 meeting rooms that can be hired by businesses or members of the public, while two sound-proof studios with audio-visual equipment and a podcast kit are also available for the community to borrow.

The council will also program yoga classes in a wellness studio, while a separate large “makers 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.Credit:Dean Sewell

And the community will also rub shoulders with their elected representatives, with the council chambers on the top floor of the building.

The new design for the chambers has been internally dubbed the “United Nations of Parramatta”; the councilors sit in a horseshoe formation facing the gallery, and each seat is equipped with a personal audio-visual system, connected to a microphone, with built-in voice function. The councillors’ screens – also projected to the gallery – will show the council’s agenda and changes in real time.

Outside the chambers are framed portraits of each of Parramatta’s 60 mayors since John Williams first held the role in 1861.

Downstairs, the building’s foyer is filled with art that celebrates the city’s indigenous and migrant histories: a world map has been engraved on one wall, and 16 vignettes have been digitally projected onto it, tracing migration journeys from around the world to Sydney’s second CBD.

Parramatta Lord Mayor Donna Davis views the 6 million project as the one

Parramatta Lord Mayor Donna Davis views the $136 million project as the “missing piece of the Parramatta Square puzzle”.Credit:Dean Sewell

It starts in the Dharug language, a tribute to the original inhabitants across the hinterland of Greater Sydney, from more than 40,000 years ago, and continues to trace southern European migration in the 1950s and 60s through to the Lebanese Civil War and the current wave of skilled migration from China, India and the UK.

Two other pieces of video art by local artists with migrant backgrounds will be projected on large screens at the back of the foyer, interspersed with ambient environmental footage taken of the Parramatta River, mangroves, Parramatta Park and the CBD.

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The basement floor is the building’s “discovery room”, where a long room pre-installed with lighting equipment stands ready to host temporary exhibitions and performances. First up is the Royal Agricultural Society’s celebration of 200 years of the Easter Show, which began in Parramatta in 1821. A display of historic trophies and show bags is on display for visitors this weekend.

For Davis, Phive should be Parramatta’s living room, with double doors spanning an 18-metre opening, allowing people and events to spill out into the square.

“It’s alive, it’s colourful, it’s on a whole different level to any other municipal building you’ll see anywhere else in Australia. This building is unique – you’ll never see it again anywhere – and it’s Parramatta,” she said.

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