The Waratah Studio

  • Client
    Fleming's Nurseries & Victorian Government
  • Completion
    May 2013
  • Architect
  • Landscape Architect
    Phillip Johnson Landscapes
  • Builder / Project Manager
    Atkinson Pontifex
  • Fabricator
    Plate Alloy
  • Engineer
    BDD Engineering

The Waratah Studio is conceived as a private retreat, an inspiring communion with its surrounding environment.  The structure will feature internationally as the focal point of the Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in 2013, a design by Phillip Johnson Landscapes.  It will also be the centre piece of the Australian Garden at the 2013 China Flower Expo in Wujin, a further collaboration between Phillip Johnson Landscapes and studio505.

Phillip Johnson’s works are unique and stand out due to his ability to capture the details that constitute the beauty of a natural landscape, combined with the technical skill and passion to re-create them.  Powerful synergies are born of opposites, so where Phillip Johnson drew from details he observes in the natural landscape, studio505 drew from geometrical abstraction as a metaphor for the rules governing the processes that generate a certain form of nature’s beauty, which can be reflected in architecture.

As the visitor moves through the Australian Garden, the Waratah Studio’s articulated shading envelope presents the beholder with a subtly dynamic image, evocative of a blossoming flower.  Expressing its communion with the landscape, it is fully permeable to its context, both inwards and outwards.  In a display of geometric perfection, when standing front-on inside the structure looking over the garden, all vision of the timber petals disappear entirely.  Step one foot to the right or left, and the petals reappear to remind the voyeur where they are once more.  The digitally fabricated petals have been designed to capture natural light and create a striking dappled effect inside the studio.

The Waratah Studio is solidly geometric and fluidly organic.  It is rational and emotional, simple and precious.  It reminds us that everything is generated from opposites, in the same way that Australian flowers can be created from fire and water through the process of rejuvenation.  These themes are also incorporated in the studio’s geometry and elements, presenting the abstraction of a flower born of fire and water - a driving concept that in a truly organic sense is reflected at every scale of the project.  This theme is not only a concept, it also tells a story - in 2009 Australia did not participate in the Chelsea Flower Show as a result of the tragic bushfires that struck Victoria in the same year.  In 2013 Australia comes back to Chelsea, rejuvenated and more vibrant than ever.

Internal and external viewsInternal and external views

The studio is designed to be disassembled into a number of components for shipping purposes

Modular finished parts pre-fabricated in AustraliaModular finished parts pre-fabricated in Australia
Modular finished parts shipped to UK in containerModular finished parts shipped to UK in container
Modular finished parts are assembled into the structure, onto which plywood petals are appliedModular finished parts are assembled into the structure, onto which plywood petals are applied

physical modelphysical model