Stainless Garden Armillary Sphere

 

Stainless steel armillary sphere on front lawn

Stainless steel armillary sphere on front lawn

This DecoWorks stainless steel garden armillary sphere fitted to a sandstone column adds a unique and interesting feature to this front garden lawn.

The armillary sphere is 70cm high with the central sphere itself being 45cm in diameter. The finish is raw brushed stainless steel which will last many years exposed to the elements without any corrosion problems. The armillary sphere was shipped to an interstate client who arranged the cutting of the sandstone support column and the fitting of the sphere itself.

More information on armillary spheres can be found here. The sturdy base on the sphere can be easily attached to a support pillar such as this sandstone block or a custom structure.

Stainless steel garden armillary sphere

Stainless steel garden armillary sphere

Another view of the armillary sphere showing its solid construction

Another view of the armillary sphere showing its solid construction

Armillary Sphere Support

armillary sphere

Armillary sphere fitted onto new support

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

Top of new support

Detail of timber clad armillary 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.

Stainless steel armillary sphere on new support

Stainless steel armillary sphere on new support

Polished Armillary Sphere

Armillary sphere

Stainless steel armillary sphere on garden wall


Here is another installation of a DecoWorks Pty Ltd polished armillary sphere. This polished armillary has a high lustre so it sparkles in the sunlight. Each sphere is built for a specific latitude so that the earth axis is parallel to the real world north/south axis.

Further information can be found on the page relating to the armillary’s construction details.

Stainless steel was chosen for the armillary’s construction because this particular sphere was going to Australia’s Gold Coast where the salt spray would destroy any other material over time. This polished armillary sphere makes a fascinating focal point to the entrance gate and will look *as new* for many years to come.

The armillary sphere (from the Latin “armillae”, or bracelet) is a representation of the celestial sphere with the Earth at its centre. It was used by ancient astronomers to describe the motions of the stars and planets relative to the Earth. Their use and development had reached a zenith during the Renaissance. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the armillary sphere was more than ever a necessary accessory of the gentleman’s study or library.

Garden Armillary Rock Feature

Completed garden armillary rock feature

Completed garden armillary rock feature with pebble infill


This garden armillary rock feature was designed to mount a polished stainless steel armillary sphere which would be the focal point for the front garden at the Wollemia Urology Centre in North Gosford. A selection of natural rocks were sorted by size and colour, prior to construction, and fitted together according to their unique size and shape. When the basic shape was achieved the rocks were concreted into position.

A stainless steel support armature was made and aligned into a central hole in the garden armillary rock feature with a plywood frame. Stainless steel was chosen to eliminate the corrosion problems within the concrete over time. The hole was filled with concrete fixing the frame in position.

Next, the stainless steel frame was clad in rocks which were cemented in position until the centre plinth was created. The only rock cutting required for the whole feature was at the very top where the armillary was going to attach.

The inside of the garden armillary rock feature was filled with concrete to give it additional stability and also to give a solid base for some decorative white pebbles which would cover the area inside the base. The concrete will also eliminate any weeds growing up through the pebbles. A small hole at the front allows any accumulated water to drain away to the garden.

The polished steel armillary sphere was then bolted into position on the top of the plinth. Details of the armillary sphere can be found here.

Concreting rocks into the basic shape of the rock feature

Concreting rocks into the basic shape of the rock feature

Preparing to concrete the armillary support frame into position

Preparing to concrete the armillary support frame into position

Armillary support frame concreted into position

Armillary support frame concreted into position

Support frame being clad in rocks

Support frame being clad in rocks

Filled with concrete to prevent weed growth through the white pebble fill

Filled with concrete to prevent weed growth through the white pebble fill

Completed garden rock feature

Completed rock feature ready for cleaning and filling with white pebbles

Gold Coast Harbour Town Armillary

Gold Coast Harbour Town armillary sphere

Harbour Town armillary sphere


The last place I expected to see an armillary sphere was at Harbour Town on Queensland’s Gold Coast. It just proves they make great decorative additions to almost any situation. The image of an armillary sphere represented the height of wisdom and knowledge during the Renaissance and it still carries that legacy today.

The word armillary is derived from the Latin armillae meaning a bracelet. The sphere is made up of several concentric rings (or bracelets) set inside one another which collectively represent an Earth centred view of the celestial sphere.

Armillary spheres were developed by the Greeks and were used as teaching aids to help visualise the movement of stars and planets in the heavens as early as the 3rd century BCE. Larger and more precise machines were also used as observational instruments. The Chinese had also developed simple devices as early as 4th century BCE. These developed in style and complexity over the ensuing centuries culminating in the construction of the Honcheonsigye armillary in 1433. This is the only astronomical clock from the Joseon Dynasty in existence today.

The Persians and Arabs improved even more on the armillary and developed other astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe. More refinements occurred during the Renaissance particularly by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).

Harbour Town armillary sphere

The armillary sphere at Harbour Town on Queensland’s Gold Coast is a major sculptural element within the complex. It is set on a column in the middle of a compass laid out on the ground which is divided into 360 degrees. On this are indicated directions and distances to major cities around the world. It has quite a “Hard Rock Cafe” feel to it with the word LANE in prominent orbit around the outer sphere.

The sphere is inaccurate as the rings representing the polar circles and circles of the tropics are all equidistant from the equator ring when they should be 23.5 degrees from the poles and equator respectively.

Harbour Town Traders Lane

Harbour Town Traders Lane armillary on the Gold Coast

Garden Armillary

Garden armillary sphere

Garden armillary sphere

There is no easier way to add some style and class to a landscape than with the addition of a garden armillary sphere. The image of an armillary sphere represented the height of wisdom and knowledge during the Renaissance and it still carries that legacy today.

An armillary sphere is a representation of the celestial sphere that was used to describe the motions of the stars and planets across the sky. The word armillary is derived from the Latin armillae meaning a bracelet. The sphere is made up of several concentric rings (or bracelets) set inside one another which collectively represent an Earth centred view of the celestial sphere.

Armillary spheres were developed by the Greeks and were used as teaching aids to help visualise the movement of stars and planets in the heavens as early as the 3rd century BCE. Larger and more precise machines were also used as observational instruments. The Chinese had also developed simple devices as early as 4th century BCE. These developed in style and complexity over the ensuing centuries culminating in the construction of the Honcheonsigye armillary in 1433. This is the only astronomical clock from the Joseon Dynasty in existence today.

The Persians and Arabs improved the device even more and developed other astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe. More refinements occurred during the Renaissance particularly by Tycho Brahe (1546-1601).

A description of the garden armillary and more photos can be found on this page.

Garden armillary sundials

Another form of garden armillary is a sundial. Usually it is simply two open rings set at right angles to each other with a rod (or gnomon) running down the central axis which casts a moving shadow along the horizontal ring section as the Sun traverses the sky. It is important to align the gnomon with the southern and northern celestial poles so that its axis will be parallel with the north/south axis of the Earth.

Below are some photos taken during construction showing the ring orientation.

Armillary sphere construction

Fitting the tropic rings of the armillary sphere

Aligning the meridian and horizon rings of the garden armillary

Aligning the meridian and horizon rings