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As part of a staged Neutral Bay Streetscape Project, North Sydney Council engaged Knox and Partners Landscape Architects to redesign the Barry Street Plaza giving it a contemporary new look
The upgrade included repaving, installation of new seating, improved landscaping and pedestrian access. Cynthia Turner of Gilded Gardens created elegant sculptural seating in reinforced concrete, which, in the style of Spanish artist Gaudi, is clad in finely detailed glass mosaic tiles and an upgrade of the lighting scheme to improve safety and enhance the overall presentation of the plaza.

“The wall has been subject to graffiti in the past and we thought that a lively lightshow would be a discouragement to the graffiti artists,” explained Paul Knox, principal of Knox and Partners. “Also, the wall of the building was a fairly bland structure and, as it was one of the two enclosing elements of the space, it really needed a certain something. It’s not council property so the idea of an ephemeral light energising it and making it more interested seemed a good one.”
Paul had taken note of the successful colouring of the Sydney Opera House and other such projects that took place in Sydney during 2000. With ideas created from these projects, Paul approached Jonathan Ciddor in August 2001 looking for an exterior lighting concept for the project. Jonathan produced a concept design utilising V.I.P. texture and image projection.
“Paul liked the concept and Council were interested after Paul’s initial presentation, so I arranged a site demonstration,” added Jonathan. “This is when I involved and introduced Giles Wragg from Avsound Productions. Giles helped me with the on site demonstration which North Sydney Council loved and consequently accepted. After that they involved the local artist in the gobo content as an extension of the furniture design.”

Paul is extremely pleased with the lighting element of the project and the contribution made by both Jonathan and Giles. He believes that the idea of security and resistance to vandalism is becoming more prevalent and this is a classic example of how to do it in a fun and enjoyable manner. He predicts that there will be plenty more projects of this nature in urban spaces.

“Paul Knox wanted light that was moving and colourful,” explained Giles. “It also had to be able to change effect every month for a totally different new look. The Clay Paky V.I.P.300 certainly fits those criteria. Not only can we change the gobos but we can also use glass, coloured glass and different prisms to achieve many different effects. Planned themes include stars and moons for January and hearts for February. We can do all of that with both standard and custom-made gobos. We can even theme the projection to local history – the local tram that used to run through Neutral Bay may become an image one month soon. We can have static gobos, moving gobos or both – the choice of effects with the V.I.P.300 is vast.”

The first theme is of winter leaves blowing around and Giles works closely with the artist Cynthia Turner to create the images. September will be a spring showers theme.
“I find that with these fixtures it’s best to get them in position and then play with the various mirrors, gobos, lenses, wheels and prisms,” said Giles. “It’s remarkable what you can create from falling rain to blowing leaves to rippling water. It’s going to be an interesting project.”
Three Clay Paky V.I.P.300 fixtures, each with a colour changing wheel, single gobo holder and rotating quad prism, are used to project the images. Currently each light uses a steel gobo; the outside projections are the same with the middle image larger.
“With the quad prism I can achieve the flowing leaf design,” said Giles.