For “SWAY” a stainless steel fence as art installation
The Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg was in need of a physical deterrent to secure their outside exhibition courtyard. They had asked Rina Stutzer to design a functional but beautiful visual element that would fulfil the need, in harmony with all that already existed in the space.
The artist proposed a site-specific concept that visually merges the surrounding natural and architectural structures. The design had to consider the gallery context, especially aiming not to distract attention from the artworks on display. Knowing the scale and aesthetic importance of the fence, the process used had to be industrial and cost effective.
The development process included freehand concept sketches followed by the master made by hand utilising thin strips of natural wood. These were cut and carved into a 1/10 scale composition, also serving as a scalemodel for the fence.
After the approval of the proposal, the fence was drawn into a 3-D digital realm, and transferred to the required format for the lasercutting machinery. Fence parts were lasercut and welded together at the engineering niche firm Certus. The welded fence segments were finally handed over to DSW art studio, a bronze foundry that also specializes in the finish of other metals. DSW managed the metal chasing, surface finishing and installation of the structure.
The combination of skilled people from different disciplines brought this design into being – the collaboration between specialists creates more than what an individual might be able to. The specific project’s success is due to the merger of the artists and the engineers (engineers from Certus engineering in Midrand, Michele and Andreas Benassi) and a creative team of artists, namely Alex von Klitzing, Francois Visser and Angus Taylor, from Dionysus Sculptures Gauteng (DSW art studio)
As the viewer moves around the creation, a dynamic visual impact is achieved by the structural appearance of the fence. From one vantage point the fence will appear purely linear, as if repeating Circa on Jellicoe’s exterior, but from another the animated quality of the design becomes clear.
Material enhancing form and aesthetic
3CR12 stainless steel was the material of choice, since this metal oxidizes slower than mild steel and it is also more cost effective when one compares it to other stainless steel types such as 304 and 316. The rigidity and strength of the chosen stainless steel, made it possible to design a pure vertical linear structure that is only fastened on floor level, with no other horizontal support. The reflective shimmer that is emitted by the material, when finely finished, adds a subtle luxurious characteristic to the structure. On all levels 3CR12 stainless steel was the most appropriate material to use for its ability to meet the challenges presented by the design process, as well as the budget.
The fence spans over 13 meters and includes 51 profile pairs, amounting to 102 individual units.
The fence cantilevers and for this reason the anchors had to extend deep into the floor. The base is a long stainless steel channel fastened on to a flat bar. The pedestrian and service gates, swing open by means of a swivel pipe cylinder hinge (a bespoke design for this project) which was sunken into the concrete foundation.