Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices at 1 Bligh Street, Sydney
Around May 2012, ASH received a phone call from a flooring company who had found themselves in a bind. “We’ve been awarded the floor laying contract for 1 Bligh St, Sydney” they said. “But we cant find the timber!”
This was no ordinary Victorian Ash floor, this one was special. The criteria for this floor was 195 x 22 DAR, PEFC certified in a large volume, cut into 25mm blocks with the end grain facing upwards creating a butchers block effect and increasing the janka rating above and beyond that of the dense Australian timber species.
The floor was going to look spectacular but taking on a job like this was not as easy as it seemed. There was no company in Australia other than Australian Sustainable Hardwoods capable of supplying this much Victorian Ash with PEFC certification but the question remained, what if the floor is exposed to variation in humidity? Will it expand or contract? What allowances should be made? Who can precision dock and manufacture all these blocks without creating tear-out and misshaping? The questions rolled on…
In partnership with Britton Timbers we decided to kiln dry the timber to a range of 9-10% moisture content. This would reduce the variation of movement from one block to another as the timber equalized with its surroundings. The timber was delivered to Premier Wood Machining in Victoria who carried out the meticulous work of docking and profiling every single piece before packaging.
The attached photos and video were provided by Chris Fox -the creator of the artwork, not the floor. His sculptures can be seen flowing out of the floor in spectacular fashion.
Chris Fox, Drift (2013), pulls from the ground plane rising gradually from the parquetry floor. The motion evident in the rolling form is indicative of the slow and shifting forms of the ocean floor which have shaped Sydney. Referencing bathymetric maps which document these underwater landscapes, the 8850 pieces of end grain Victorian Ash stack together, gathering momentum as they peak and barrel over to rejoin the ground plane. The motion of Drift reveals the transition as it morphs into a fragmented and frenetic expression of the City and it’s expansion through, and at times despite it’s own topography.
Project Team: Chris Fox, Edward Horne, Mark Swartz, Lucy Green, Elizabeth Macovaz, Bethany Sheehan, Shane Marshall, Alexander Fox, Juanita Schlink, Caitlin Seymour-King, Eleanor Stancombe, Samatha Lee
Client: Australian Federal Government
Fitout: Architectus, Schiavello
Fabrication Drawings: AR-MA
Photography: Josh Raymond