GKD's Bronze Mesh in St Kilda

John Hill
24. July 2014
Photo: Peter Clarke, courtesy of GKD

An apartment building designed by Elenberg Fraser in St Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, incorporates solar protection through bronze-colored mesh from GKD woven around the exterior.

Photo: Peter Clarke, courtesy of GKD

Architectural inspiration can come from many places and take many forms. In the case of Melbourne, Australia's Elenberg Fraser, they found inspiration for their five-story Luna Apartments in Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Specifically, the bronze wrapper of the tapered building is, in the words of Callum Fraser and Zahava Elenberg, "based on Princess Leia’s infamous 'dancing girl' gold bikini." They continue: "While Luna’s curvaceous form echoes the draping lines of Leia’s usual white robes, the shimmering gold glass and metal mesh materials are matched perfectly with the colors and textures of the gold brassiere."

Image: Elenberg Fraser

Further control comes with how the lighting integrates with the bronze mesh and the similarly colored glass. In the architect's words: "Switching the inside lights on reflects the interior of the apartment onto the windows, and people outside can see in; however leaving the outside lights on illuminates the interior, turning the windows transparent, and people outside are prevented from seeing in by the reflection of the lights on the glass."

Photo: Peter Clarke, courtesy of GKD

While the scene with Leia and Jabba the Hut in Return of the Jedi supposedly answers the question, "what is Leia hiding under her robes?" the architects of Luna Apartments (named after the nearby Luna Park amusement park) thought about privacy, about how much of the apartments are revealed, when designing the exterior. The bronze-colored aluminum mesh (ALU 6010from Germany's GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG) is mounted on operable shutters to give the residents control over how open or closed they want their apartment to be at any given time. The mesh acts as a privacy control, but also as a means to restrict the elements, be it sun, rain or wind.

Photo: Peter Clarke, courtesy of GKD

One of the most interesting aspects of the design – what started with the Princess Leia inspiration and evolved into the material selection – is the character of the terraces that sit between the mesh and the full-height, bronze-glass walls. Given the palette of both the mesh and the glass, these outdoor spaces take on a soft, metallic glow that is quite pleasing. The sun cutting through the mesh and hitting the glass creates something akin to an eternal sunset, or perhaps like being on a planet in a galaxy far, far away.

Photo: Peter Clarke

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