When South Australian developer, John Culshaw of Pentroth Pty Ltd proposed the design for the Majestic Roof Garden Hotel in Adelaide, the original proposal was for plain vertical bars for the car park grille of the Bent Street facade
Instead of surrendering to drab, pre-fab vertical bar grille designs, the developer actively sought a stylish alternative to the car park status quo. He commissioned artists Sue Rodwell and Trevor Rodwell to create ‘Strata’, a stainless steel grille design that aesthetically showcases the hotel building and provides a ‘majestic streetscape’ experience for Bent Street pedestrians.
The artists’ intention was to excise the barrier that would be created by the vertical security bars, which were uninviting at street level. Taking this as their starting point, they researched the replacement of verticals with horizontals to create a calm but dynamic form.
Strata lines of sandstone (used on the Frome Street facade of the hotel), contour lines, isobars from weather charts and the winged roof line of the hotel all helped to drive the inspiration for the unique design. From these lines, the artists devised a series of twenty-two panels, in sets of one, two and three. Each set is a unique design so that the complexity of the concept was acknowledged.
The grille runs the length of the hotel on Bent Street, integrates with the building and the electrically operated entrance doors to the car park and storage areas of the hotel. The nature of these horizontal waving lines creates a dynamic effect because it seems that they swing in and out because of an optical illusion when viewed from an oblique angle. By day the sky and daylight are reflected from the satin surface of the steel and at night the street and hotel lighting is reflected.
The artists chose stainless steel for their artwork for several reasons. The material used had to be strong to fulfill the structural requirements of a security grille. The artists also required it to be aesthetically complementary to the contemporary and stylish design of the hotel.
The artists went through an intense design development stage to arrive at a formula for the curving lines that worked visually. Using this formula each panel was then drawn on a computer as vector lines, which were then converted to DXF files for driving the laser cutting equipment.
The panels were fabricated by Donato Steel Fabrications from 4mm thick 304 grade stainless steel sheet supplied by ASSDA major sponsor, Sandvik Australia Pty Ltd. The artists’ designs were laser cut by Molnar Laser Cutting Services and then plate linished both sides to a number four satin finish. The sheets were then welded on the inside into the frames constructed of 38mm square stainless steel tube supplied by ASSDA major sponsor, Atlas Specialty Metals.
The intention with these panels was to create a frame within a frame, the second frame being the walls and pillars of the hotel into which they were bolted. Therefore, the construction of the panels became part of the artwork.
The artists are very pleased with the result of the installation of ‘Strata’. Pentroth Pty Ltd and the Adelaide City Council are pleased that it adds to the ambience of Bent Street and creates a lively streetscape for pedestrians. Opposite the Hotel (and currently under construction) are Bent Street Apartments which will have retail facilities at ground floor level – ‘Strata’ provides a pleasant environment on the street which is also overlooked by the apartments above.
The stainless steel fabrication meets all the requirements of a car park security grille while providing a lively streetscape in the city. The artists believe this is a good example of creating something meaningful out of a necessity. That is, a car park grille that had to be created but it did not need to be ugly and aggressive for pedestrians at street level or for those living in the adjacent apartments.
Images courtesy of Sue Rodwell and Trevor Rodwell.
This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 30, January 2005.