Innovative 3D printed installation brings the Antarctic to Melbourne

A collaboration between two RMIT researchers, the unique cross-disciplinary installation is on display as part of the National Gallery of Victoria’s free Triennial EXTRA program.

The work, titled Floe, features an architectural piece by Associate Professor Roland Snooks and was created using new techniques for 3D printing fireproof polymers developed by Snooks and his team at RMIT.

Commissioned by the NGV to sit under the iconic mosaic ceiling of the Great Hall, the installation includes a soaring soundscape of Antarctic field recordings captured by sound artist and RMIT Associate Professor Philip Samartzis.

“We wanted to create something to activate the great hall and this installation is the perfect conversation between sound and space,” said Ewan McEoin, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture at NGV.

Recorded during two Australian Antarctic Division Arts Fellowships, Samartzis’s soundscape of constantly shifting ice shelves, glaciers, icebergs and sea ice challenges the perception of Antarctica as an unchanging landscape that is suspended in time and place.

“The way people experience the installation changes throughout the day as the light shifts and different crowds come through the space,” Samartzis said.

“There have been heaps of children interacting with it during the day which is a nice novelty for me as I don’t usually get that with my work.”

McEoin said the NGV is committed to providing a platform for Victoria’s leading innovators in design and architecture to make their work available to the public.

“These types of projects enable people to prototype technology and materials. The Triennial is all about presenting this to the public in an accessible and engaging way,” he said.

Snooks said universities have a role to play in developing collaborative partnerships to lead the way for new research and development, particularly in the construction industry.

Professor Martyn Hook, Dean of RMIT’s School of Architecture and Urban Design said Snooks’ research and practice has real and physical outcomes for the architectural and building industries.

He said Floe exemplifies the exciting potential for large scale production resulting from the customising and creative behaviours of robotic fabrication techniques.

“These new techniques for 3D printing fireproof polymers are now being used to build structures that can meet building code and make beautiful spaces,” he said.

Floe is on display in the NGV’s Great Hall and is free to the public until White Night on 17 February 2018.

Story: Grace Taylor

Left to right: Paul Gough, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Vice President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT, Ewan McEoin, Senior Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture, NGV and sound artist and Associate Professor Philip Samartzis inside Floe.

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