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Set in stone

Beautiful stone of several kinds will be used to enhance the exterior and interior of the Sir Zelman Cowen Centre for Science, including 2,117 square metres of sandstone.

A major feature of the building’s facades, north (facing Morrison Street) and south (facing the Meares Oval) are vertical sandstone louvres – 24 on each facade – which are designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as to filter sunlight coming into the building, particularly on its northern side..

As part of the approval and quality assurance process for the construction of the louvres, a prototype was constructed in the UK. Andrew Hayes (project architect, Cox Architects), Chris Gatacre (contract manager, Kane Constructions) and Ian Parker (master mason, I G Parker) travelled to the UK early in 2015 to inspect and approve the prototype, and samples of other stone elements.in the project..

The group found that the louvre prototype exceeded their expectations and proved to be sculpturally excellent and beautifully crafted. On this basis, approval was given to proceed with fabrication of the louvres – a process that is expected to take around eight months. The stone will be cut in the UK, assembled to check for fit and finish, and then shipped to Scotch.

During their visit, Andrew, Chris and Ian also inspected the Jura limestone which will be used in the main foyer. The limestone is rich in fossils, and there is a good chance some of the panels will contain interesting fossil specimens which will be visible on the walls – yet another exciting feature of this unique development..

During the trip the design team also visited the cove red sandstone quarry in Kilpatrick Fleming, Scotland, where stone for part of the exterior walls will be quarried. At the time of the visit, the quarry was a small lake: each winter the quarry fills with water, and at the start of summer, it takes two weeks to pump out the water before quarrying can begin for the season.

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THE COVE RED QUARRY AT KIRKPATRICK FLEMING IN SCOTLAND.

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THE PROTOTYPE LOUVRE ASSEMBLED AT REALSTONE’s HEADQUARTERS IN CHESTERFIELD, UK.

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LEFT: EXAMPLE OF A FOSSIL IN THE JURA LIMESTONE WHICH IS SPECIFIED FOR THE FOYER.

TIM SHEARER PHOTOGRAPHY: ANDREW HAYES, COX ARCHITECTS

Updated: 3 October 2016