2012 Melbourne Design Awards

Key Dates

Wintergarden Facade [DRAFT]



Project Overview

An iconic and enchanting new art facade for the newly opened Wintergarden Shopping Centre in central Brisbane. The facade covers three sides of a city block and is a complex study of wintergardens, biology, geometry and layering. The facade design incorporates unique cutting, folding and lighting systems which are integrated into a coherent cultural event.

Every panel and layer in the 4,000m2 façade has a unique design that is fully expressed through the dynamic, experiential interplay between a considered but expansive palette of colours and a rich language of cutting, scoring, folding and lighting all of which coalesce as a rich, coherent, cultural experience.

Project Commissioner


Project Creator



Client - ISPT
Architect - studio505
Specialist Engineer - Tensys
Contractor - Urban Art Projects (UAP)
Artist Consultant - John Warwicker

Project Brief

The brief for the new facades to the three street frontages of the Wintergarden Shopping Centre required the creative application of a coherent identity and architecturally holistic sensibility in order to realise a multitude of intentions - to create an entertaining and engaging retail experience, a lifestyle destination and a 'must-go-to' meeting place and thoroughfare - at the heart of Brisbane's city centre.

Our response to this brief was to build upon the deep cultural collateral and public good will that resides in the site and the name 'Wintergarden' and create a radically experiential composition, a complex and beautiful study of nature, geometry and layering that communicates the rich diversity of life.

Our work on Wintergarden has enriched the studio's knowledge in the fields of screen geometry, cutting, folding and panelising to the point where the most complex elements of design and construction are converted from creative potential and idealism to practical achievability.

Project Need

studio505 have created a new cultural infrastructure in the heart of Brisbane’s city centre. The Wintergarden Shopping Centre has become a hub and 'must-go-to' meeting place both during the day and also after night fall.

The main visual ‘structure' of the façade is created by the trees that run beyond each side of the façade. As with looking into a forest the first glimpse is of a dense complexity that is almost ‘barrier-like'. Then on closer inspection gaps appear and substantial depth is read. Details emerge and the rhythmic activity of life and light energises the scene and captivates the imagination.

As the position and strength of the sun changes from day to day and season to season so the folds, cuts and textures of the façade generate new patterns of highlights and shadows, and as night falls the lighting within the façade creates yet another reading.

A low resolution integrated lighting system has been created that can change from a snowstorm through to the bursting of spring, into summer and finally into autumn, all within a single night. Rain, sunsets, storms and fireworks are other examples of the systems expressive capabilities. In short, the façade is similar and different but never the same. As well as being functional the façade is also engaging and entertaining.

Design Challenge

The biggest challenge was developing, refining and communicating the scale of the lines, of the shapes and forms and stories of the façade within the project design team, to the client ISPT, to our consultants and contractors and to the council officers who issued the permits.

The Wintergarden façades are 4000m2 – huge! Our first sets of drawings were drawn at a scale of 1:400. As the design developed over time the scale of our representations and presentations increased. This was required to resolve technical, aesthetic and construction issues, and models formed a key part of this development- 1:100, 1:50, and 1:20, even a prototype at 1:1.

The entire façade over three layers was finally drawn and produced by studio505 at 1:1 so that all of the detail within the façade could be fabricated from laser and water-jet cutting files. This artwork is not enlarged from anything, transposed as it were, but rather conceived and drawn in reality.


The principle coloured metal used in the facade is painted solid aluminium, not composite aluminium cladding. Counter-intuitively (as composite panel was developed to reduce the usage of aluminium), this meant that rather than generating any waste from the average 70% void cut in the aluminium, all the off-cuts were melted down and reformed into new blank sheets. This resulted in the 8000m2 of aluminium (over two layers), being delivered with only 2400m2 of aluminium- a saving of 5600m2 of raw material had we have used composite sheet, and an effective wastage rate of -70%, compared to +10% (see diagram).


This award recognises the design process and product of planning, designing and constructing form, space and ambience that reflect functional, technical, social, and aesthetic considerations. Consideration given for material selection, technology, light and shadow. The project must be constructed.
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