Kings Park Education Artwork Project: A series of nine building integrated floor inserts and an animated metering column in the new Kings Park Education.

Clients: Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority
Architects: Donaldson & Warn
Photographer: Robert Frith, Acorn Studios and Joel Barbitta, D-Max Photography
Location: Kings Park

The research component for this project commenced in January 2009 and the artwork was completed in May 2012.

Project Significance

1. The project is part of Solar Cities – an important national initiative. The building is designed with many sustainable attributes including solar power, planted roof, energy efficient lighting and uses natural ventilation techniques for maximum effect.
The artworks in the building and surrounds are related works. The first is comprised of a series of illuminated floor inserts in the plaza area and the Education centre . The second could be described as an animated, illuminated live metering column located inside the learning area.

The artwork column meters live data from the solar array and the building’s energy consumption, and converts this into an illuminated visual display. The solar energy, the heating and cooling, and the building’s power consumption, are translated into three coloured elements within a three metre column that allow the children who visit the education centre, to have a direct understanding about the relationship between energy collected and energy consumed, through visual information.

The clients and Solar Cities have commended the fact that the artwork allows the building’s ‘solar aspect’ to be ‘value added’ in the sense that hundreds of school children over the next few years will be exposed to the artwork which will make a continuous contribution to solar energy education, beyond the presence of solar panels.

2. The building integrated floor inserts use electroluminescent light to backlight a series of apertures that visually highlight the patterns of root systems from particular species in the adjacent Naturescape.

BGPA brief: Engaging Children with Nature

The role of Kings Park Education serves as an interface between a student’s existing knowledge of ‘nature’ and the experience the student will encounter in the building and in the surrounding Rio Tinto Naturescape.

The building’s planted roof adds ‘green value’ to its sustainable attributes and disguises its form when approached from the main entrance. Added to this, is an intended sense of mystery, intrigue and anticipation when negotiating the entrance ramp to the Education centre.

The artwork concept responds to the mystery and semi-underground nature of the building by highlighting aspects of nature that are rarely visible (as in seeds), or invisible and underground (as in root systems). The mystery/intrigue aspect is built into the floor inserts by the requirement for the viewer to look closely.

Details: Floor Artwork

The floor artworks attempt to make both seed and root elements of nature visible in a non-didactic way and draw attention to the patterns that can be created from these layered structures as well as emphasizing the particularities and individuality of the selected species.

The glass embeds a root system pattern trapped in between three layers of glass, and a pattern of seed shapes from the individual species, sandblasted into the surface of the glass. This enables the viewer to look through the seed pattern to the root pattern. Through the back illumination of layered and printed glass, it is intended that the floor works become apertures into a magical underground world, functioning in both a day and night context.


  • Digiglass – a product that prints images in an interlayer between the glass. Here layers of glass contain two layered images. The root systems have been photographed and the soil has been digitally removed to expose their patterns.
  • Electroluminescent (Flatlight) lighting backlights the work from under the glass. The floor inserts respond to sensors in the ceiling, turning on when a human presence is detected. Flatlight is very thin aluminium printed with an electroluminescent (phosphorous) paint that illuminates when an electric current travels through it. It glows rather than being a point-source form of lighting and doesn’t produce heat. It is very energy efficient.
  • Stainless steel – the surrounding inserts and the rim are made from this material. The rims each have the name of the particular species engraved into the surface.

Species chosen to represent from the Naturescape plants are

Number Common name Botanical Name
1 Scott River Jugflower Adenanthos detmoldii
2 Mangles Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos manglesii
3 Dryandra Banksia ionthocarpa
4 Dampiera Dampiera species
5 Featherflower Verticordia citrella
6 Kalgan Boronia Boronia heterophylla
7 Coast Sword-sedge Lepidosperma gladiatum
8 Cottonhead Conostylis stylidioides
9 Zamia Macrozamia fraseri

Metering Column

This artwork responds to the Solar Cities brief to create a work that meters solar energy and other aspects of the buildings sustainable/green attributes.

The starting point for this piece evolved from the root ‘patterns’ research for the floor works. After discovering knowledge about an aerial root system of the Xanthorrhoea preissii (Grass Tree) it seemed appropriate to create a contrasting work about above-ground root systems.

Again, the idea is visually interpreted in a non-didactic way by deconstructing the linear qualities of the Xanthorrhoea aerial root system (horizontal/vertical/diagonal lines) and applying this imagery to a multilayered metering column.

The column translates live data from three sites: the solar array (GREEN light); the mechanical system power –air conditioning - heating/cooling consumption (RED); and the building’s general power consumption – which includes lighting/power points/hot water system (BLUE).

The intention is for this data to be visible for the viewer to make a comparison between energy collected and energy consumed. However, it is my intention that the artwork is more than a didactic interpretation of the data – rather a translation of this information into an elegant, illuminated and animated visual and sensorial experience. In other words, fundamental to the viewing experience, is a sense of ‘wonder’ built-in to the work.

I hope to achieve this through the patterning and layering of the acrylic tubes. There are three x 3 metre acrylic cylinders, each with a sandblasted pattern of one aspect of a deconstructed Xanthorrhoea preissii aerial root system (e.g. either horizontal/vertical/diagonal elements). Once the tubes are inserted inside each other, they create a visual complexity that disguises the LED strip at the centre. It is anticipated that the red, blue, green typical dot-dot-dot of the LED will be transformed into three glowing vertical lines that move up & down according to what each is measuring. Through the layering and patternation I hope to achieve a sense of mystery and intrigue.


  • 3 metre acrylic tubing x 3 – with sandblasted pattern
  • Stainless steel structural component at the top and bottom with the bottom section having relevant engraved symbols in the base’s rim.
  • LED strips x 6 mounted on an acrylic triangular stand inside the tubes.
  • Acrylic grooved based

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