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Origami sculptures transform South Perth’s foreshore

Anyone visiting Perth Zoo or South Perth for the Australia Day celebrations is in for a treat as the newly completed foreshore alongside Mends Street jetty formally welcomes two new residents; a massive Frilled Neck Lizard and giant Numbat. The origami inspired sculptures form part of the ‘Connect South’ project which seeks to improve the public space linking the jetty with Perth Zoo.

Wood & Grieve Engineers now part of Stantec (WGE) worked closely with architects, Iredale Pederson Hook to develop the structural form of the vision. In paper form, origami takes its strength from folding. To drive efficiencies in the metal structure, stiffer ‘skeleton’ elements were introduced to produce a folded plate shell with strategically paced members underneath.

Boasting over five tonnes each, the Numbat is 8m high x 23m long, and the Frilled Neck Lizard is 10m high and 20m long. Particular attention was given to the shape and angle of the 9m cantilevered Numbat tail to provide rigidity, and a perforated plate solution limits wind loads and consequent stress on the 10m wide lizard head. Both too large to transport in their entirety, we identified key areas where the structures could be split and developed unobtrusive connection details.

The impressive sculptures not only showcase Australian wildlife and the crucial role Perth Zoo plays in protecting our indigenous species, but make way for artistic creativity, design and functionality” said our Structural Section Manager and WGE Principal, Alasdair MacKerron.

This has been a fabulous project with a place-making, community outcome as its key focus. It has been a pleasure to be involved – from early design through to completion. Not only do the sculptures demonstrate smart engineering, they will certainly become popular features on South Perth’s foreshore.