Client: Council of the City of Gold Coast
Location: Gold Coast City, Australia
Completion date: 2018
Artwork budget: $254,452
ARUP Consulting Engineers
This idea was inspired by the area’s recent history of as one of the most diverse subtropical littoral rainforests in Australia, (which in some cases even grew back after it was cleared). It has been my aim to capture the imagination of the public visiting this urban oasis by depicting the contrastingly delicate impression of Shield Ferns that once grew in abundance here. Showing different stages of growth, their monumental scale together with a series of ground panels symbolise the importance of this heritage and our place within a broader natural order.
It has been essential for this project to be integrated with the surrounding high profile and busy location, which is seen by a train full of people every 7.5 minutes and visited by over 2 million people each year. I have given a vertical emphasis to the works to create an uplifting organic counterpoint to the surrounding built up intersection, which has two train lines and sees heavy road and pedestrian traffic. The work integrates with the entire intersection by being placed on each of the four corners, and uses LED lighting to come alive at night. In the interest of safety, the leaves are all above 4 m and are permeable to allow views of nearby signage and local businesses. Below ground, there is a complex network of underground services and so the work was designed in consultation with ARUP to have minimal ground footprint which allows vertical pile foundations to be used in order to avoid underground services and to cause minimal disruption to pedestrians. In these ways, integration was crucial in the overall design.
Interested in creating large scale site specific work, my initial concept was inspired by the artists design brief which asked to reflect on the area's bio-diverse history and to create a gateway sculpture marking the beginning of a cultural corridor in time for hosting the 2018 commonwealth games. Given the complexity of this high profile location above and below ground, the design process has been a collaboration between myself and ARUP Consulting Engineers who I have worked with successfully on several previous international projects. This involved refining a 3D computer model to withstand local wind loading and traffic impact with design specialists in ARUP Cork, Brisbane & London offices over a number of conference call meetings. I have also liaised closely with City Council, local contractors, traffic management and light rail and other service providers to ensure public safety during delivery & installation. I also consulted with local businesses, stakeholders and City Council to ensure minimal disruption to business during installation. In this way, communication and people skills have become important to the successful delivery of this project as well as expertise in the materials of the work itself.
While this work depicts local Shield ferns at four different stages of growth on an architectural scale, a series of six ground panels in etched concrete aims to create a more intimate interaction around each of the four stainless steel works. LED ground lighting and a soft brushed finish on each fern with a surface roughness of less than .5 microns ensures minimal maintenance in what is a very harsh maritime setting, while softly reflecting the surrounding planting and buildings.