One of Australia’s largest public art installations is nearing completion at the new Emporium Southpoint Hotel in Brisbane.

Titled ‘Sun Veil’, the AUD$4.35 million kinetic screen by internationally acclaimed environmental artist Ned Khan was commissioned by private Brisbane developer Anthony John Group to wrap the lower levels of the three towers in their AUD$600 million Southpoint development in South Bank.

The design and installation project has been some 10 years in development and measures over 3,800sqm. To date, two of the three kinetic screens have been installed, with the third to wrap the final tower which will comprise residential apartments and the new flagship Emporium Hotel.

Known worldwide for his work that marries art and science, Khan is dedicated to exploring the physics and beauty of natural phenomena such as wind, fog, fire, sand, and water. Applying an abundance of technical skills, he brings these elemental forces to the public through interactive and kinetic sculptures and large scale installations in buildings, galleries and science museums worldwide.

Drawing inspiration from nature and the local landscape – in this case interpreting the famous Queensland afternoon light that turns the Brisbane River into a reflective bronze, gold and silver meanderer – Khan sought to manifest nature in an urban setting. “I began with the idea that wind is ultimately powered by sunlight – heat from the sun drives movement of air,” he said.

His design called for thousands of tiny panels of extruded aluminium in four different metallic tones to be placed within specified pixel layouts, with every panel able to move independently to complete the vision for a wind-responsive artwork that reflects light.

Anthony John Group Managing Director, Tony John, said the selection of Kahn for this significant commission spoke to the ambition of Southpoint and how developers can realise the benefits gained from integrating public art into building design.

“We are passionate believers in visually and environmentally sustainable design, ensuring our developments positively enhancing the character of its surrounding environment now and for many years to come,” he said.

“Being positioned in Queensland’s arts and cultural heart, we wanted Southpoint to be not only be a vibrant mixed-use development on what is the last piece of land to be developed in South Bank, but a tribute to the location–in itself a work of art.

“This kinetic screen is a powerful cultural contribution to Brisbane that supports our position as Australia’s New World City.

“At twice the size of the Turbulent Line installation that Khan created at Brisbane Airport, the Southpoint kinetic facade is one of the largest public works of art in Australia, and indeed considerable on a global scale,” John said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management