Architects and artists — the creative dream team 30 May 2018

What happens when two seemingly disparate disciplines are brought together on one project? Bureau^proberts architect Liam Proberts believes artists and architects should work in harmony — harnessing their collective strengths to enhance urban design.


Bureau^proberts Managing Director Liam Proberts long ago identified the power of combining art and architecture. “Art is an essential element to all our architecture projects because it is such an effective way to connect our buildings with their place and history,” Liam explains.


“Integrating art into architecture can create memory, intrigue or feeling. In our design, we use art to bring connection or activation to a space, or to create a sense of presence or even calm. It helps us to craft the kind of environment that is right for a place.”


Liam goes further than merely describing the synergy between artists and architects as ‘complementary’ — instead, he credits artists with delivering fresh and dynamic responses derived from an entirely different perspective from architects. After all, they are unencumbered by a brief. Seemingly, the only limit is their imaginations.


The best of both worlds


For more than 25 years, Liam’s desire to marry art and architecture has been evident in his  work, both domestically and globally. Among the practice’s notable offshore projects is Abu Dhabi’s Wahat Al Karama — an installation and pavilion to honour the heroes of the UAE. Wahat Al Karama was designed by bureau^proberts and Urban Art Projects (UAP) in close collaboration with internationally renowned artist Idris Khan.


Kaust Beacon, also located in the Middle East, was designed by bureau^proberts — once again in collaboration with UAP’s Creative Director Daniel Tobin and his team. Kaust Beacon is a landmark for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Here, a 60-metre structure represents the distinctive form of the coral from the adjacent Red Sea Reef, morphing to carbon strands symbolic of the University as a place of learning and progress.


Understanding each perspective


Back on home soil, Daniel Tobin and the UAP team were joined by Visual Communicator Jen Marchant to work with bureau^proberts on multiple projects including Canberra’s National Police Memorial. Jen also worked closely with Liam and his team on the Ipswich and Rosewood Coalminers Memorial. She describes the collaborative process as a mutually respectful experience.


“In addition to being a very good architect, Liam is extremely insightful and well equipped to balance the creative requirements of a project with all the necessary processes and the desired outcome,” Jen explains. “As an artist, I’m always mindful of what the architect has designed and I respect that by creating work to add to the quality or experience of their building.”


For Jen, the parallels between the two disciplines are tangible. “An architect and an artist’s process are not too dissimilar,” she says. “For both of us, a great deal of time is devoted to research and we both go through the formal stages of concept and design development.”


Adrian Clifford, an Artist and Co-Founder of Rinzen (an Australian design and art group) agrees there are strong similarities between artists and architects. “We are both accustomed to taking a thematic idea and distilling that into a physical reality through a process of refining it through whatever particular medium or production method is required.”


Most recently, Adrian collaborated with bureau^proberts to create a dot-print graphic design to grace the entire façade of the Newstead Series (apartments located in Brisbane’s inner north).


Sink or swim — working with a challenging canvas  


Adrian also collaborated with bureau^proberts on the Brisbane City Council’s Bellbowrie Swimming Pool. Here, a street-facing feature brick wall served as Adrian’s canvas.  His brief was to design a brick pattern to reference the suburb’s prolific flowering gums. In Adrian’s own words, he “explored different pattern-based aesthetics and outcomes using the brick as the unit of illustration”.


The result was an award-winning façade that took top honours at the coveted 2013 Think Brick Awards in the Horbury Hunt Commercial category. High praise indeed but Adrian is humble about his career achievements to date. “A lot of successful art design happens when you don’t notice that it’s working — it is one of those sort of propositions,” he explains.


“My role is to help ‘activate a space’ to enable people to view it with some degree of life, despite working with fairly dry, synthetic kinds of materials. It’s a way of bringing a sense of ‘nature’ to a building — to replicate that feeling you get when you’re in amongst nature. It’s uplifting and it’s hard to put your finger on the exact place from which that feeling emanates. Ultimately, I use all the tools in my toolbox to imbue something man-made with that type of spirit.”


To find out more about how to incorporate art into your next project, please contact us on (07) 3221 0672.


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