City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Journal: m3 moiré façade model

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Back in January, in an entry on façades, I noted a recent, and relatively local, favourite – the extraordinary western face of the Brisbane Girls Grammar School Creative Learning Centre. Brisbane buildings have to posess a trick or two to deal with the fierce sun on their western side, and local firm m3architecture obliged with a protective layer of anodised aluminium slats, overlaid onto a wall painted with black and white stripes … which just happens to create a gigantic moiré effect as you move past it.

The school sits on a hill adjacent to the six-lane Inner City Bypass, and so commuters witness the entire six-storey façade undulating and revolving as they drive past. In my earlier post I promised a video of the thing in action and I'm yet to deliver, but in visiting the excellent (and aforementioned) 'Place Makers' exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane recently, I captured the next best thing – some rough videos of the exhibition's simplified 1:11 scale model of the western wall.

That is essentially exactly what it looks like, just 1:11 scale. The moiré effect is surprisingly simple, as this close up of the model indicates. (For the curious Wikipedia's definition of the moiré is worth a read.)

Some photos of the model at 'Place Makers', which is also simple but a very effective display.





Some images from an Architecture Australia article, indicating what it looks like in context:

m3 produced some notes on their design for the building on their website, though they don't reveal much detail about the provenance of the moiré idea – except perhaps in the phrase "dynamic space of circulation". I half-wonder whether the feathers of local parrots or the ubiquitous slats and blinds of Queenslanders' verandahs may have provided subconscious inspration.

Beautiful plumage

m3 moiré façade videos at Vimeo
'Place Makers' and architecture scenes
'Place Makers', Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane


5 responses to “Journal: m3 moiré façade model”

  1. Greg J. Smith Avatar

    The installation documenting/contextualizing this project is quite beautiful!


  2. Sheona Thomson Avatar
    Sheona Thomson

    Excellent capture!
    Within the exhibition, I think the documentation of this building is the most engaging of all (with Rex Addison’s house next in line thanks to the little doco Taringa 4068: our place in time) The different media help us get at understanding the process of thinking and making buildings a little better. (The rest seem focussed on straight seduction in comparison.) Mark Taylor (QUT) has written a profile of m3 for Architectural Design – he discusses the moire screen and its effects (and thereby perhaps also its genesis) :
    Taylor, Mark (2008) m3architecture. Architectural Design 78(2):pp. 122-127.


  3. matt Avatar

    I noticed the Brisbane Girls Grammar facade last time I was up there, have been meaning to find out who was behind it ever since. Thanks for the reminder.


  4. John Hubbard Avatar

    I’m ready to visit Brisbane just to drive by this building over and over! Great article, photos and film clips for those of us who aren’t there. This is my first visit to your blog and I noticed you are listening to Victrola Favorites – good times! I designed the book with Rob and Jeff. Glad you are enjoying it!


  5. Miss Francon Avatar

    It’s so great to see such a dynamic young firm getting the recognition they deserve. Their designs are thoughtful and considered, often understated but always artistic and inspiring.
    Great architecture is so often underrated in Australia (in Queensland especially), so the exhibition at GoMA is a great opportunity for people to think critically about the buildings that surround them.


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