Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 28 Autumn 2011 Contents 186 INSITE AUTUMN 2011
flowers of native plants. Fauna appears, too,
such as the dragonfly design drawn by their
talented son Shannon, 15, and the cockatoos
on a metal screen for a recent project.
Rob loves earthy, natural materials,
such as recycled jarrah for decking and
metals that look better with age. He also
enjoys using Corten steel, which has a high
percentage of nickel and copper in the alloy.
“When it rusts, the oxidation layer becomes
very dense and protects the steel underneath.
It won’t flake off and keep rusting away, so
the rust actually protects the steel,” Rob says.
“And it drastically reduces the staining
effect, as well, because it’s not continually
rusting. I love to use materials that show their
true nature, which is what I love about Corten
steel and brass and bronze and copper – you
can use them in the environment and they
look better with time instead of deteriorating.
Letting the earthiness of it come through in
the finished product is very important.”
Rob especially loves the ageing potential
of copper. He’s built a lot of water features
and found that UV, water, algae, calcium and
lime deteriorate and stain most materials. “If
you use the copper, it just looks better with
age. It’s never going to corrode,” he says.
It actually treats the water as it flows
over it, he explains, pointing out that
copper sulphate is sold to kill algae. “So,
if you have your water feature made of
copper, it’s slowly releasing copper into
the system. I like to work with nature
instead of struggling against it... to reduce
maintenance and increase longevity.”
Glass is another material high on his list.
“Once again, it’s a real material, it’s not
plastic. It’s an elemental material, it’s sand,”
he says. “And you can get a real depth with it
as well. I like to sandblast-etch into the glass.”
However, it’s not all about small-scale
projects. An exciting project for The Fifth
Room is at a holiday house in Capel. It
features a Corten steel retaining wall around
a nine-metre-diameter circle. This wall,
tapering in height from 1.2m to ground level,
sweeps around three quarters of the circle.
Synthetic turf covers the ground above.
An industrial-style stainless steel beam,
several metres high, has been installed to run
between two sections of an outdoor wall. Rob
says the industrial nature of it hasn’t been
disguised. In contrast, a playf ul aspect is
brought in by two swings hanging from it.
Blue metal covers the ground inside
the circle. “Once again using industrial
materials and having that funky edge to it,”
Rob explains. Sculptures by a Melbourne
artist, already owned by the client, are
also included. The effect of the green
synthetic turf against the rusty red wall,
the blue-grey metal, the silvery galvanised
beam and limestone surrounds is striking.
“It’s become the talk of the town... it’s total
holiday whimsical playlands,” Rob laughs. He
“I love to use materials that show their true
nature, which is what I love about Corten steel
and brass and bronze and copper – you can use
them in the environment and they look better
with time instead of deteriorating”
A she-oakdesign on three panels of
Corten steel and (inset) Rob spends
time in nature to gain inspiration.
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