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Steel stencils for light: Wintergarden façade, Brisbane, Australia by Studio 505.

An entrance facade.

In the heart of Brisbane is a black box shopping centre that has three façades poking between other buildings that help to contain it on its site. Together they help to form the surrounding streets and square. Studio 505 were given the age old conundrum of how to distinguish what can sometimes be a graceless shed with a façade that makes a worthwhile contribution to the street and the city. Each façade must also advertise the existence of the shopping emporium behind it.

The result is a rich and beautiful garden scene that takes as its references nature and the richness of life itself, with layering and the expression of geometry. Thankfully, Studio 505 made no attempt to resolve the inherent contradictions within the ideas nor did they attempt to illustrate a story, but rather they allowed the richness of ideas to exist as separate layers that can be interpreted or perceived in whatever way pleases the viewer. The visual complexity that results is beguiling. The façade itself has a delicate and elegant feel.

What really interprets and reveals the façade is the play of light and shadow. During the day the sun plays with the scene animating it. At night, a sophisticated lighting system can suggest sunny, rainy or snowy days – pure entertainment! It is difficult to say if the touch of Vegas is detrimental to the concept or is an essential part of it. In the spirit of the façade, let us leave the viewer to decide.

A diagram of the cladding system shows how it was achieved. The first layer was laser cut from stainless sheet and hand folded to provide depth. Fixed on to this layer are laser cut butterflies apparently feeding in the steel garden. Similarly the second layer was water-jet cut from aluminium sheet that is coloured using powder coating. Layer three is a perforated or composite aluminium panel of abstract geometric patterns. There are various frames and grillages between the layers, stiffening, fixing or otherwise separating the important components.

Detail of facade

Juxta position of facades

Entrance canopy

Close up of a scene

Garden with blue sky

View from inside

Facade from a distance

Close up

Elevation one

Elevation two.

Elevation 3

Facade detail

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