Idea to Recycle the Neville Bonner Building into Public Art

Artist's impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building
Artist's impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building

Graphic artist and designer Rodney Boyd has proposed an idea to recycle the sun shield fins of the Neville Bonner Building and incorporate it into the design of Queen’s Wharf as public artwork.

Completed in 1999, the Neville Bonner building featured concrete fins on the river facing facade which acted as a thermal shield from the westerly sun.

Although practical, the design was controversial and saw an early end to make way for the Queen’s Wharf Integrated Resort Development.

The Neville Bonner Building's sun shading concrete fins
The Neville Bonner Building’s sun shading concrete fins

The idea came about on Rodney’s overseas travels. He explains that the sense of history and identity is strong in other countries.

“This is most evident as you walk the cobblestoned streets and look at the surrounding architecture – some religious, some institutional and some residential and trivial. This is partially the driver for my idea. Our surroundings show who we are, where we have come from and what’s important to us,” he says.

“I have often passed the Neville Bonner building and admired the shapes of the window shades. Although the shades served a purpose, I thought the beauty of the shapes was hidden and somehow wasted with their repetition on the building. That the shapes could look better as stand alone pieces and cast their own individual angular shadows,” he says.

Under the concept idea, the concrete window fins would be semi-buried into the planned grassed areas around the Integrated Resort’s riverfront sections which would form sculptures, a unique architectural reminder of the Neville Bonner building.

Artist's impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building
Artist’s impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building

Asked about the other planned artwork in Queen’s Wharf, Rodney explains he was both relieved and impressed at the sheer scope of artwork proposed for the precinct.

“I was concerned with how the underside of the motorway structure would be ‘disguised’, and I was impressed with the ideas put forward, especially with the ‘urban glade’ images from the post which bring to mind the bougainvillea arbour along Brisbane’s Southbank”, he said.

In terms of the cost of recycling the old concrete window shades, Rodney says he hasn’t looked into any costs but that the pieces are on-site, being dismantled.

Artist's impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building
Artist’s impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building
Artist's impression of an idea to recycle parts of Neville Bonner Building
Artist’s impression of the sculptures placed along the Queen’s Wharf waterfront

“The costs would include the time and extra care to remove them from the building, to store them until the project was coming to an end and then to install the pieces and light them,” he said.

“If this proposal is to go anywhere, the window shades from the building need to be secured before the building is demolished. Most of the pieces have been removed from the building, but some still remain on the south east wing”.

In August last year the government announced that the new pedestrian bridge to be built linking South Bank to Queen’s Wharf would be named the Neville Bonner Bridge as a tribute to Neville Bonner who was the first ever Indigenous Australian to become a member of the Parliament of Australia.

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