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Under the Sun

Under the Sun

12 June 2015

‘Under the Sun’ is a 1300kg, 6.5m diameter suspended stainless steel sculpture that embodies a symbol of the moon floating over the earth, and casts filigreed shadows under the sun. It is an inspiring architectural piece featured at the entrance of Stockland’s Point Cook Town Centre in Victoria, and was completed in 2014 as part of the shopping centre’s $20 million revamp.

 The sculpture is an expression of the relationship between the moon and the sun, opening a space for visitors to reflect in moments of perspective and wonder. The sculpture’s concept was also inspired by the traditional feminist symbol of the moon, celebrating the role of women in the Point Cook community and embodying the role of nature in the life and tides of the local Bellarine Peninsula Wetlands.

It was designed by Melbourne artists Robert Owen and Joanna Buckley, engineered by Anthony Snyders of Adams Consulting Engineers, and fabricated by the artists in collaboration with Jeph Neale of Artery Cooperative and Luke Adams of Eco Electrics. The intricate detail in the sculpture was laser cut by Arrow Laser.

The sculpture’s face panels and reinforcing ring beam were made using grade 316 stainless steel, specified for its excellent corrosion resistance. It is suspended between the building and a 10m high mast, using 22 grade 316 stainless steel cables of diameters 4mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm and of varying tensile strengths up to 71kN.

The complexity of the suspension and installation of the sculpture required 3D modelling, detailed structural analysis, design and documentation which was undertaken by Anthony Snyders in consultation with ASSDA Member Ronstan Tensile Architecture (a division of Ronstan International).

This analysis and modelling allowed Ronstan Tensile Architecture to manufacture cables to the exact lengths that would see the 1300kg sculpture held securely in the designed position, taking into account the weight of the structure, cable stretch, cable creep (elongation over time) and wind loads. The bending of the mast and loads applied to the building were also defined by the analysis and considered in the design and installation.

Ronstan Tensile Architecture’s General Manager Rowan Murray said 3D modelling and analysis was a critical step in accurately predicting the structural behaviour and performance of cable structures. Applying this science upfront assures these structures are installed as designed and mitigates many of the risks of suspending art in the public realm.

In addition to consultation for the structural design of the cable support structure, Ronstan Tensile Architecture’s project scope included the manufacture of the cables, installation of the foundations, the mast, brackets to the existing building, and the lifting and suspension of the sculpture.

ASSDA Member MME Surface Finishing was also engaged to mechanically and chemically polish the stainless steel sculpture to provide maximum protection against tea staining and corrosion, whilst presenting an architecturally pleasing surface finish. Firstly, 3 x 1.5m stainless steel plates were mechanically polished to a No. 6 Finish, 320 Grit (0.5μm Ra Max) ensuring a smooth and consistent linished finish. Once laser cut and fabricated, MME Surface Finishing pickled, passivated and electropolished the panels and rings.

The end result of this successful collaboration is an impressive sculpture with an outstanding balance of aesthetics, geometry, constructability and durability.

This article is featured in Australian Stainless Issue 55 (Winter 2015).

Images courtesy of John Gollings.

Lissel Pilcher