A recent project involved the design of Art Deco folding security panels to secure the alcoholic assets of a CBD Sydney bar. The Reagh Bar at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel needed to leave their bar stock on the shelves behind the bar rather than having to put it all away each night and re-stock the following evening.
The Art Deco era Castlereagh Hotel opened on September 12th, 1927 and was built by the New South Wales Masonic Club. It was the first reinforced concrete building in the Sydney CBD and, at the time, was the tallest building in Sydney with 12 floors. Its construction set the precedent for future CBD buildings. It has been the base for the Masonic Club ever since and they wanted something sympathetic to the Art Deco era of the hotel for the folding security panel design.
Our PLAZA style Art Deco design was selected as the optimum style for the folding panels. The design brief was for security panels that could be easily locked and opened and not be too obtrusive. A set of six centre opening Art Deco style panels were designed that satisfied the brief while keeping the overall look light and airy. Clear polycarbonate panels were attached to the back of the folding panels to prevent access to the the bottle stock through the steel bars when the panels were locked closed.
The following photos illustrate the construction of the folding panels. To keep the visual impact of the bars to a minimum 20mm wide framing was chosen. To avoid having two adjacent 20mm vertical bars together making 40mm wide vertical sections 20x10mm solid steel verticals were used which presented a combined 20mm width overall. This made attaching the clear polycarbonate back panels difficult. Since each panel required forty screws to attach to the frames they had to be individually drilled and tapped into the solid 20x10mm sections to accommodate the fastening screws.
The geometry of the six folding panels was crucial and they had to be millimetre perfect so they would meet in the middle of the bar section and lock together.
The top and bottom sections of the frames were hollow 20x20mm SHS steel and only 1.6mm thick so 12mm thick sections had to be fitted into them so the pivots had something solid to screw into.
(Click on an image for a larger view.)
Fitting 12mm steel plates into the top and bottom frame sections to attach pivots
Vertical bar section hinges showing open/closed positions.
To keep the overall look light and airy the clear panels needed to screw directly to the back of the 10mm wide vertical bar sections. This required drilling and threading for 240 screws. To simplify construction the panel operation geometry was done before the design was welded into them.
Drilling and tapping holes for attaching clear polycarbonate panels to frame
Checking the geometry of the folding panels before fitting the design
Once the panel folding geometry had been confirmed the PLAZA design was jigged into place in the frames and welded in position.
Laying out the design in a jig before welding everything together
Completed side with design in test frame to double check geometry
The clear polycarbonate panels were attached after all the welding was completed. To accurately drill the screw holes in the panels dummy screws with sharpened heads were fitted into the screw positions and the polycarbonate was hit lightly with a hammer over each screw point to indicate where the holes should be drilled. Preliminary testing of the panel operation is shown in the video below.
Fitting polycarbonate sheets to back of frames
All polycarbonate panels fitted and fitted to test frame to check alignment
The folding panels are supported and slide inside tracking sections at the top and bottom. The bottom tracking can be removed when the panels are stowed open on each side. When closed the panels are secured together with a pivoting drop bolt. The operation of the panels is shown in the video at the end of the post.
A custom concave table base was required on which a large black framed mirror could be mounted. The client wanted a unique display table for their optometrist business. A sturdy design was developed for the base section that blended well with the mirror while maintaining an elegant double concave surface on the base.
White LEDs around the inside edge of the mirror frame were also fitted to illuminate the display area. The table base was constructed of timber and was finished in a high gloss black enamel.
To make the concave surfaces an intricate timber framework was built on which the plywood surfaces could be attached. To keep the weight to a minimum sections of ply were cut from the ply panel components that were not structurally required. This had the added benefit of allowing access inside the base to ensure good adhesive bonding of the edges of the concave surfaces.
Routing the curved profiles for the support structure
Completed internal framework prior to cladding
First concave ply section attached
Cladding in 5mm bendy ply completed
The LED strips around the inside edge of the mirror were powered by small battery packs fitted in recesses under the mirror in the base section. The LEDs were divided into two sections with a battery pack fitted either end of the table base.
Many older style homes and units have outward opening bathroom windows which makes it difficult to install suitable security bars. The solution we offered a client was to install them on the inside of the bathroom windows.
Interior security bar installations present their own set of difficulties not least of which is being able to open and close the windows which are now behind the bars.
These particular windows have a long arm which needed to be able to swing up from the locked position and then pivot out to push the window open. This was achieved by using a cross motif in the design which allows the opening arm to be manipulated through the open areas of the bars.
An upstairs verandah in a Sydney terrace had a bare brick opening in its side wall which the owner decided needed some louvre shutters. The owner had some discarded louvre doors available and we were approached to see if they could be recycled and used to make a set of louvre shutters for the wall opening.
The louvre doors were cut to size and fitted with arch sections which matched a timber frame that was built to fit inside the wall opening. Once the window frame had been painted it was fitted into the wall opening and fixed in position with black epoxy filler. Epoxy was used because the wall opening was not square and the arched top not a perfect circle arc resulting in clearance variations between the bricks and the wooden window frame.
As can be seen from the photo below the addition of the decorative window shutters was a major improvement to the overall look of the home.
Custom Japanese style pillar lights for driveway entrance
A recent project required the design of a pair of custom Japanese style Pillar lights for the entrance to a rural estate. Commercially available pillar lights were too small as the sandstone pillars were over two metres high and 800mm square. To simplify constructing a complete electrical fitting (which includes electrical safety standards compliance and rating) a commercial fitting was selected which was of a suitable style and construction that could be adapted to a larger fitting.
The new Japanese style pillar lights are essentially a lampshade that fits around the commercial fitting. The base section is fastened to the sandstone top of the pillar around the commercial fitting. The lightweight metal roof section is attached to the top of the metal frame of the commercial fitting which has had its glass shade removed.
Below details the steps in building the fitting.
Steel frame of the pillar light. This will be fixed to the pillar top
Translucent acrylic windows fitted to the metal base frame
Marking out shape of the galvanised iron roof
Folding the roof cutout section with sheet metal bender
Completed top roof sections ready for painting
View of the base set around the commercial light fitting
Custom pillar lights and stainless steel entrance gates with Art Deco palm leaf motif
These front entrance gates incorporate a stylised palm leaf design that DecoWorks produced for the entrance driveway to a rural estate which was lined with mature palm trees. The design also reflected the diminishing perspective of the palm trees as seen looking down the driveway.
Due to the size of the sandstone pillars custom light fittings also had to be designed to compliment the gate installation. Commercially available fittings were too small for the 800mm square pillars which made building the large light fittings a necessity.
The front entrance gates were constructed using stainless steel to ensure a long and corrosion free life. Adjustable stainless steel hinges were used to compensate for any construction and installation irregularities and also allow for future adjustment if necessary.
The custom pillar lights were constructed around a commercially available pillar light to simplify the requirements of making an electrical fitting. The custom fitting is essentially a *lampshade* fitted over the top of the commercial fitting. Details of their construction can be found here.
Silhouette of front entrance gates with palm leaf motif
The Qantas 747 Jumbo Float of Gayviation from the 1997 Mardi Gras parade
There were many creative entries in the recent 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. One that caught my eye was the Qantas #gay380 float which brought back memories from almost 20 years ago when the original idea of a Qantas 747 Jumbo float was first realized by the Qantas social group, Gayviation.
Gayviation’s 1997 entry (one of 200 that year!) was the forerunner of the later large marching entries in the parade with almost two hundred people doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to the music of Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. The entry won “Best of Parade” at the 1997 Mardi Gras Awards Night.
This was a time before the ubiquity of digital cameras and social media so the only record of the time was predominately on film and VHS video. I went through my old negatives and scanned the photos taken in preparation for the 1997 parade and share them here with a brief narrative on the lead up to the parade. Click on any photo for the full size version.
The front truck of the Qantas 747 Jumbo was christened COCKATOO DREAMIMG.
Gayviation’s concept was very simple. Tony Baker, their president, told me they wanted a Qantas 747 Jumbo float consisting of a front truck, being the nose and cockpit of the aircraft, and a rear truck being the tail. It was to go up Oxford Street with a large marching troupe between the two floats, representing the passengers, doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to a dance track produced by Tiger Recording with Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. There were to be generators on both trucks to power lighting for the marchers and a complex sound system.
Because of the length of the entry the marchers at the rear couldn’t hear the music from the front truck so a radio link was planned to feed the music from the front truck to the rear truck so those at the back could hear and stay in time with the music of the routine.
I set about designing a metal framework with the shape of a 747 fuselage that completely enclosed a tabletop truck. I was Head of Props at Opera Australia at the time and was allowed to use the workshop facilities in Surry Hills to build the float. It was built in five sections that bolted together to form the shape of the fuselage. All the metal frameworks and wooden fuselage side panels were built at the Opera workshop and fitted to the truck. Once this was completed everything was transferred to the Mardi Gras workshop in Erskineville.
Main cabin frame covered and painted in the Mardi Gras workshop
Top cabin section hanging from the Mardi Gras workshop roof
At the Mardi Gras workshop the steel frames were covered with chicken wire and then glued over with newspaper. Once it had dried it was painted white and had the signage applied. The tail section was built at the Mardi Gras workshop and consisted of a large inverted “V” shape made of plywood which would conceal the generator and sound system. The logo on the tail of the flying kangaroo in a stiletto heel was the brainchild of one of the flight attendants at the time. The rest of the tail truck was masked with black fabric to highlight the tail fin.
On the morning of parade day the front and rear trucks were assembled for the first time in the petrol station outside the Mardi Gras workshop and then driven to Jands lighting in Alexandria to have the lighting and sound systems installed. The installation of all the lights took a particularly long time which became quite stressful as the afternoon wore on.
Fitting lighting and sound systems to the front and rear trucks at Jands warehouse
My anxiety levels were beginning to show as time was running out to get to the parade start
The removable front nose cone was covered in an open mesh material so that the driver of the truck could see out when it was fitted to the front of the fuselage frame. The side passenger windows were also aligned so that those next to the truck cabin could be used to see out to the side.
COCKATOO DREAMING being driven out of its “hanger” for the first time was an exciting moment for all.
Eventually all the lighting rigs and sound systems were finally connected up and tested. Qantas 747 Jumbo “Cockatoo Dreaming” was ready to see the light of day.
It was an exciting and memorable moment for everyone to see it being driven out of the warehouse at Jands Lighting for the first time.
The picture below is the only time that the front and rear trucks were set front to back to show how the complete Qantas 747 Jumbo float looked before being driven to the parade marshaling area in the city.
The front and rear trucks of “Cockatoo Dreaming” ready to go to the parade.
The two trucks on the way to the parade
Qantas 747 Jumbo Float passing through Redfern.
As is generally the case, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. After the Sun had set we discovered it was difficult for the driver to see through the nose cone section so a segment of material had to be cut out to give a clear view. The radio link with the rear truck also failed on the night so the marchers at the rear had to rely on visual cues to keep in time with the front marchers during the safety demonstration routine.
Tony Baker and myself wishing “Cockatoo Dreaming” good luck just before the parade start.
Qantas 747 Jumbo featured on the Mardi Gras 1997 Parade Video promotional poster
The parade was a blur of colour and sound and a terrific time was had by all. All the effort was worth the once in a lifetime experience of taking a Qantas 747 Jumbo up Oxford Street. The video below shows the parade entry on the night. Great memory 🙂
Buggery’s Creek International Airport railway station – 1998 Mardi Gras parade
The following year Gayviation did another parade entry. The Qantas 747 Jumbo float from the previous year was ressurected with new livery and I built another float consisting of an illuminated rainbow coloured control tower which led the entry up Oxford Street.
The float represented Buggery’s Creek International airport railway station and along with the illuminated model of the Sydney airport control tower featured a classic Sydney Rail railway platform built over the truck cabin. The power generator was concealed by several bushes behind the cabin. Two large power line towers, typical of Western Sydney, completed the picture and supported the lighting.
At the time there was hot debate about a new airport at Badgery’s Creek with a new rail link which is *still* going on as I write this post. I hope they end up putting in a fast rail link as it is “out to buggery” – an Australian colloquialism for a very long way away. Another one, “go to buggery”, is an impolite way to tell someone to “get lost” or “go away”.
Below is a video of the Control Tower and 747 Jumbo in the 1998 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
A client who had previously commissioned a DecoWorks polished stainless steel armillary sphere recently moved to a new, larger house. They wanted to remove the armillary sphere from the garden wall of the old house and have it re-installed in the garden of their new home. We were approached to design a new support for the armillary sphere so it could be placed in the garden of the new house.
In keeping with the materials used for the armillary sphere the support was constructed from stainless steel to ensure a long life in its seaside environment. Stained Merbau timber strips were cut and attached to the support framework to form the outer *skin* of the support.
Top of new support
Detail of timber clad armillary support
After the new support had been concreted into position in the garden the armillary sphere simply bolted onto the top. It makes a great focal point in the garden and adds a unique visual addition to an already beautiful outlook.