Creating a substantial building that was instantly recognisable as a creative precinct was a challenge relished by Bellemo & Cat Architects. This award-winning dynamic duo is renowned for combining art with architecture, delivering innovative artistic responses to everyday architectural challenges. And they never disappoint. St Francis Xavier College’s new Music, Dance and Drama facility at its Officer campus being case in point.
Sitting between two existing buildings it’s instantly recognisable. And it’s all thanks to a creative, and discipline-inspired, motif on the façade, consisting of blue lines representing an amalgamated heartbeat and soundwave. “The façade uses an interpretation of the sound wave, merged with the heartbeat to represent both sound and movement, as this building will be the generator for both,” Bellemo & Cat explains. Both colour and window openings have created the visually striking motif, which penetrates throughout the entire building.
With the help of Robertson Façade System’s brick inlay system, and the expert team at Macquarie Precast, the façade came to life with zero construction issues. This may be hard to believe, considering the motif’s rather complex design.
“It’s a really good system to use. And if you’re systematic about the way you approach it, it’s a time efficient system. A lot of the intensive labour is done offsite. So onsite time is very fast. They put all of those panels up in three days – it was ridiculously quick,” Cat Macleod, co-founder Bellemo & Cat, remarks.
Choice of material palette was relatively straight forward, to be sympathetic with the fabric of the existing buildings, while of course creating something unique. “The other building is brick so it’s got a red brick and a red glazed brick, so we thought we need it to be brick to be responsive to that, and we should use the two types of bricks they have used (a non-glazed and a glazed). But we used different colours to make it stand out,” Cat comments.
After a few conversations with Robertson’s Building Products and a visit to the showroom, Bellemo & Cat chose a Rustic Grey brick tile, and Dark Blue glazed brick tiles to build the façade. And both the Architects and the College couldn’t be happier. Because with a brick inlay facade, what you see on paper in the design is what's delivered onsite.
“The façade has a lot of life to it, and the bricks are really great. I really love the Rustic Grey brick tiles and Dark Blue glazed bricks. But the Rustic Grey ones are just beautiful, they have so much textural depth to them, I’m very impressed. It’s a really good balance to the sharpness of the Dark Blue glazed brick – the soft grey one has lots of textural variation in it and it’s still got that tactile surface – it’s nobbly and textural, just beautiful,” Cat continues.
It seems that a great builder, a proven brick inlay façade system, and an expert precast team is the perfect combination for a hassle-free build. That has to be music to anyone’s ears, especially the architects.
Architects: Bellemo & Cat
Precaster: Macquarie Precast
Builder: Harris HMC