just the colour green can make a difference…

A few weeks back I received this little tidbit in my inbox from archdaily.com. The Civic Association in Bratislava, Slovakia together with Vallo Sadovsky Architects have been working together to bring some green life back into the urban environment. They have created several green projects, one of which has been dubbed “Urban Intervention” – a simple and inexpensive idea to help introduce some green to a bus terminal under a set of overpass bridges.

The simple use of green road paint to create an urban oasis in this very drab part of the capital has instantly lifted the otherwise dark, dingy and occasionally unsafe area. The 1,000 square metre area now called “Green Square” shows that even the secondary use of the colour green can help lift the spirits of humanity.

Vallo Sadovsky Architects have also worked on BA_LIK, another city initiative to re-invigorate previously neglected areas of the city of Bratislava. The pavilion structure creates an open space for public use and can also be moved around and used for various performances and exhibitions. It’s all about creating and interesting, green and free space for people to better interact with their urban environment. We think it’s great!

vallo sadovsky architectsvallo sadovsky architectsvallo sadovsky architects

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what could have been…

Have you ever wondered what some of Melbourne’s iconic streets and buildings may have looked like if it wasn’t for the bureaucratic red tape and/or lack of funding? (Yeah, that old chestnut…) Well, I was pondering over this the other day and started a little research. Here are some interesting alternatives I came across that relate to the old Flinders Street Station. You may even be thankful some of these ideas and plans never became a permanent part of the Melbourne city street scape….

The original plans (bottom left) show the never-built Swanston Street entrance and vaulted glass ceilings covering the platforms. How stunning.

The unsuccessful 1976 redevelopment (centre image). Did someone say tall ugly towers?

The 1980s Festival markets (right image), which were approved to be built above the existing platforms and then abandoned when the recession hit.

Flinders Street Station - Fawcett and Ashworth's design (SLV)Flinders Street 1976 proposalThe 1980s Festival Markets

callum morton @ heide museum of modern art

For all you  fans and followers, an exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Melbourne is currently in full swing.

Callum Morton, for those who would love to get acquainted, is a Melbourne based artist who’s fresh approach to existing architecture and how he transforms it has made him well known on the international art scene.

The exhibition features almost 20 years of his work most of which has never been seen including Monument #25: Vortex, a glass-fronted shop constructed by the artist on-site and will also feature a series of drawings dating back in the early 1989 until today.

The exhibition runs until the 16th of October 2011 so make sure you schedule in a visit.

Heide Museum of Modern Art

7 Templestowe Road,



the role of product in commercial design

Lizard exfoliated granite in custom equilateral triangles for the Hamilton Island Yacht Club.

Our business is  centred around natural stone because we believe that it’s the subtle textures and colour variations of natural stone which give a space character and depth. Even when we talk about texture we’re not limiting ourselves to a tactile consideration, texture is a powerful visual cue too. It affects not only how a space looks but how it feels.

A more tactile stone like a travertine or a limestone can make a space feel warmer and more earthy. It’s also incredibly forgiving because it’s natural patina and colour variation mean that it can be more sympathetic to marks when used in a high traffic area etc.

A popular range with commercial developers is our RAW concrete tiles which are incredibly strong engineered concrete in its most raw form. They are manufactured with a high degree of dimensional accuracy and can be laid extremely thin but in terms of aesthetics, they have a subtle colour variation which presents some real character and movement in a floor.

The key to really getting the most out of your product selection is to shape the space in terms of how you want it to look and more importantly feel. We would always encourage our residential clients to think about their homes in terms of how it should ‘feel’ rather than thinking in terms of surfaces and textures. Whilst commercial designers have perhaps a less emotional angle when they’re designing, the principle is the same.

I think sometimes we have a tendancy to assume that residential and commercial design is so different and there are undoubtedly different considerations that play to each kind of project. However from a design product point of view, you’re really looking to create spaces people want to inhabit. Whether it’s a lounge room at home where people congregate, or a retail fit out that provides a high degree of stickiness because people just like being there. Likewise a commercial space that feels welcoming despite its scale. Some of the most exciting projects we’ve worked on have been where we’ve worked in partnership with specifiers to provide them with a range of product design options that bring their design objectives to life.

When we train new staff we would say – When it comes to product selection, do your homework. Understand how materials work together. Understand the way they impact each other and the surrounding design. Like any design component, different stone types work best in different aesthetic scenarios and more often than not, stone works best when it is celebrated for natural characteristics. Where it’s given the scale and impact to present variation in tone, to show a spectrum of colour and to provide texture and depth to a space.

One of the architects we work with talks about understanding the tension or harmony product combinations create and I think that’s right. Understand the design and technical implications of using one product over another and of using one product in conjunction with another. That’s the best way we can work in partnership with designers and specifiers.

ryan russell on retail interiors

We love retail design and we’re big supporters of the Retail Design Industry. This week we’re hosting the  Retail Institute of Design event at our design showroom in Waterloo Sydney which features a presentation by Ryan Russell and no doubt a chilled glass of something delicious. Ryan Russell has built a reputation as a creative multi-disciplinary design studio, specialising in Architecture, Interior Design, Set Design, Graphic and Industrial Design. He has worked with Woods Bagot and Cox Architects and Planners, and is the designer behind Left in Melbourne’s Gertrude street Fitzroy and more recently, contemporary design house Tait in Melbourne.

Ryan recently won the inaugural Retail Design Institute Award for his stunning design of the Aesop store, Westfield Doncaster and has recently formed Russell & George, a partnership with Architect Byron George. You can have a stickybeak at some of Russell’s other work here

Yellow Trace have posted a great interview with Ryan  here

And for more information on the event click here

Many of Ryan’s jobs have been shot by Dianna Snape, you can check out some of her other work here and here

Ok then.

apple’s foray into Italian sandstone

You’ve probably read about the fancy new stonework in the International Apple store fit outs, if you haven’t, you can read about it here, here and here.

The sandstone used in the international fit outs was called Pietra Serena, a high quality Italian sandstone which is more uniform than traditional sandstones, without any structural veining. It presents a consistent grayish blue colour with even tones. The final cuts for the Apple project produced tiles that were precisely 750mm x 750mm x 20 mm.

A critical element of the quarrying and cutting process for Apple was to perfectly match the color and texture of the stone. Since the stone is a medium-toned color, any variation in lightness or darkness would be very conspicuous—tiles of different tones would make the inside of an Apple store would look like a chessboard. An exterior stone wall would looking similarly odd, with varying tones of stone. It’s been reported that Apple purchased an entire quarry in order to reserve and guarantee that it would have a supply of stone from the same vein of sandstone, helping to insure a uniform grain and tone. More likely, Apple has reserved a portion of the Il Casone quarry for its own future needs.

Il Casone says that Apple’s architects, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, “prefer a regular pattern of laying (the stone tiles), without staggering any of the slabs and with very subtle joints in terms of colour and thickness. The consequent idea is to create a continuous plane. The perceptive result is a pale and orderly backdrop, whose strength and character lie in the elegance of each millimetre of surface, without ever interfering with the interpretation of places, with the avant-garde technology enclosed in chromium-plated metals and glass, or with the relationship between customer and product.”

Our Bolzano sandstone is mined in the same quarry as Pietra Serena and is essentially the same however Pietra Serena is mined near the top of the quarry whereas Bolzano is mined further down in the quarry making it denser (and therefore stronger) because it has been exposed to more heat closer to the earth’s core and has undergone more compacting.

a data centre never looked so good

This project is one we worked on a little while ago but it’s an interesting one to share because it’s a little different.

Polaris is Australia’s largest purpose built Tier 3+ data storage facility, located south of Brisbane in one of Australia’s fastest growing master planned cities.  Given the vast expanse of windowless tilt slab concrete, the 2500m2 fascade needed a little pick me up – our cotto wall cladding system provided a unique curtain-walling alternative to soften the exterior and provide some design impact.

The product used was a piastra 500×250 extruded terracotta tile fixed to a stainless steel frame used to form a unique external walling façade. This custom designed terracotta wall cladding system holds a 4-tile profile to wrap the building in layers.

Given the customized nature of the project install and the fact that this was a new walling alternative in the Australian market, we worked closely with the architect and installer to provide detailed engineering drawings and installation guidelines during the construction process. Cotto walling is a fantastic architectural product but due to its highly customised nature, is really more of a commercial product suited to larger custom jobs. Below I’ve also posted some images of other custom cotto projects for you to have a peak at.

Cotto doga cladding used here on an external commercial building wall.

Another custom cotto tile with a special glaze used for external feature wall of building.

Cotto 'Piastra' cladding on external commercial building wall.

Cotto cladding on commercial building.