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Everlasting Trees Reflect a Shade of Christmas


Posted 28 February 2000

As we pack up our Christmas decorations, vow to lose those extra kilos gained over the holidays and make plans for the new year, the festive season seems so long ago - not so far for travellers and pedestrians on St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

Perched in front of Central Equity's three new apartment buildings are 12 three metre tall stainless steel trees which, although not specifically designed as Christmas trees, have stylised conical shapes that have a distinctly Christmas 'feel' about them.

Central Equity commissioned Phillip Naughton of Design Inferno to design the trees to complement the prestigious $123 million complex.

"Trees were specifically chosen for the design to reflect the living trees on the boulevard in front of the building," Mr Naughton said.

"They also add a human element to the complex. Because the buildings are 24 stories high, the architects, the Span Group, paid close attention to the surrounding landscape to ensure that they would not be imposing.

"We worked closely with the Span Group when designing the trees so that they would add to the feel of the complex," Mr Naughton said "In fad, unless you look straight up, you don't realise the scale of the buildings because their surrounds are so comfortable."

Stainless steel was chosen for the design for its inherent qualities.

"The design brief specified that the trees had to be low maintenance. Stainless steel fitted this brief as well as adding other qualities such as simplicity and the sense of movement that could be achieved through different surface finishes," Mr Naughton said.

"As one side of each tree is mirror finished, with the other side satin finished, they reflect the seasonal colours of the living trees on the boulevard. They have changed from reflecting little colour through the winter months when the deciduous trees were without leaves, to reflecting the lush green growth of spring."

According to Joe Delacruz of DBM Industries, the trees' fabricator, welding was the most difficult aspect of the fabrication.

"The design of the trees made them susceptible to buckling during welding," Mr Delacruz said.

"To add to the difficulty, the welds had to be invisible."

As part of the careful planning for the job, DBM first built scale models of the trees from timber.

The trees were laser cut and mirror finished at DBM Industries' facility at Reservoir in Victoria. ASSDA members MME Surface Finishing of Seaford in Victoria did the satin finish.

Each tree is made from approximately 400 kilograms of grade 316 stainless steel sheet set into a concrete base which is covered with a 20mm base plate. They are capped with 10 x 30mm capping. ASSDA members Atlas Steels supplied the stainless for the job.

The trees are located on 150 metres of streetscape on St Kilda Road (near the intersection of Toorak Road).

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 15, February 2000.

Lissel Pilcher