Bringing Riverside Quay to life with a sculptural facade artwork by sculptural artist Britt Salt.

Aligning with the site’s history, and the curatorial rationale and ventilation requirements, the sculptural artwork façade for Riverside Quay sees a bold and dynamic graphic span seamlessly around the carpark exterior. Here, the public is invited to activate the surrounding urban landscape as the facade flickers and warps from different vantages. This façade’s design considers the evolving relationship between architecture, place and its inhabitants to create a new destination landmark for Riverside Quay that is active both day and night.

This concept design reflects the history of the Southbank site by engaging with Birrarung Marr, the original title of the Yarra River given by the Woiwurung and Bunurong communities meaning “River of Mists”. The life-source, flow and ephemeral nature of the river embraced by these Indigenous communities can be seen in the undulating patterns of the façade; at once solid, yet ever moving with the orientation of its inhabitants. This perpetual movement created by the façade forms a sense of weightlessness and transience over the carpark exterior much like a mist obscuring the surrounding environment of the river.  

South, East and West facades

The ‘Major’ façade consists of a single layer of perforated white aluminium with gentle surface folds that undulate seamlessly across the carpark exterior. 

Complimenting the sculptural nature of these folds is a strong geometric graphic with bold positive and negative definition. The graphic has been created via Pic Perf and depicts a dynamic folded form that is characteristic of Britt's artistic practice. Together, the folded surface and patterned graphic create the illusion of a vast sculptural depth across the building's exterior. Through transparency and movement, the sculptural facade creates a flickering moiré effect as tenants and the public walk, ride or drive around the exterior of the building and through Riverside Quay.

During the day, the negative spaces of the façade will appear dark, however at night, strong back lighting from the car park will accentuate the negative spaces of the artwork and shift negative space to positive, further complimenting the ephemeral and fluid nature of the facade. 

North facade

The ‘Minor’ North façade comprises a single rippled layer of folds with subtle linear graphic created via Pic Perf onto white powder coated aluminium sheeting. With a smaller range in the size of perforations used to create the graphic, this façade appears a softer white with less definition between positive and negative space in the graphic. There are unique viewpoints to the North facade from the intimate laneways and commercial buildings surrounding the site, as well as Southbank Promenade. With these viewpoints in mind, this somewhat quieter side of the building offers an alternative undulating form to the Major façade. Here, the bold linear graphic of the East and West façades fade into the tessellating folds of the North façade. This use of pattern creates unity across all the buildings’ facades whilst accentuating and defining the unique sculptural surface on the North side. 

When viewed from the laneways below, the façade appears like a complexity of folds. These become softer undulations when viewed from the upper floors of the surrounding buildings and reflected in their glass exteriors. In addition to the existing lights from the carpark, exterior lighting of this facade at night creates a vibrant landmark to draw tourists and patrons from Southbank Promenade through to activate the laneway cafes and Riverside Quay.

About the artist

Spatial engagement underpins Britt's practice. Using transparent industrial materials and monochromatic tones to create interactive artworks that explore notions of form and space, she is most interested in the point where fundamental elements such as line, form and space intersect.

In her sculptural work and site-specific installations, resilient industrial materials, such as stainless steel wire and aluminium mesh are drawn, folded and woven into shapes and patterns, creating spaces that gently shift with the viewers movement and interaction. When viewed from different angles, manifold patterns and forms emerge; objects can be viewed through other objects, interiors conflate into exteriors, and forms appear then disperse. Here, the viewer is invited to engage with the works and experience the myriad perspectives created as they move through the space.

Britt has been acknowledged through significant achievements such as selection for the ABN AMRO Emerging Artist Award, finalist in the Substation Contemporary Art Prize and winner of the People‚Äôs Choice Award at the Bank West Contemporary Art Prize. In 2010, I received the Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship for Emerging Artists, supporting residencies at ACME studios (London), Draw International (France) and Red Gate Gallery (Beijing). On returning to Australia, she was awarded the prestigious Art & Australia/ Credit Suisse Private Banking Emerging Artist Award 2013.