Futurewood created a custom screening solution for the substations located along the 12-kilometre Canberra Metro line connecting the northern town centre of Gungahlin to the city centre.

The initial phase of the Canberra Light Rail Network has 13 stops, with five substations alongside the track powering the light rail vehicles. To conceal the rather unappealing structures from view, the architects decided to create an eye-catching 4.4-metre-high facade around each substation using 1.1 metre x 1 metre screening panels.

The facade screening would consist of different coloured ‘chunky’ angled battens fixed to a galvanised steel frame and then bolted into place onsite to surround each substation. Each screening panel was a combination of angled battens running in the same direction, opposing directions or a combination of both; while some panels had battens of the same colour, others were a combination of the two colours chosen for the project.

Though timber screening battens were initially considered for the project, several challenging factors made the architects look for alternatives to meet their brief for low maintenance sustainable materials that could withstand the harsh winters and hot, humid summers of the region.

Sourcing timber battens in the specified size was difficult. Timber also meant additional costs in ongoing maintenance. The search for a cost-effective timber alternative as well as a supplier who could produce the battens required for this project brought the architects to Futurewood.

Futurewood’s custom solution consisted of two composite timber profiles in the architects’ preferred colours, including one profile specially extruded and cut to produce the angled pieces that were at the heart of the facade’s architectural design. The final product specifications for the composite timber profiles were 140mm x 60mm x 50mm thick angled battens and 60mm x 50mm rectangular battens, both supplied in the colours, Slate Grey and Chocolate.

Working closely with the architects, Futurewood established a special process to produce the screening material, which would allow two angled screening battens to be cut from a larger rectangular piece with virtually no waste while providing the required rough sanded face on the three visible sides of each batten. This process enabled the multi-directional timber look battened panels to come to life as envisioned by the architectural team.

Futurewood also co-ordinated with the Metro Construction and John Holland procurement teams to ensure that the right quantity of material was programmed by profile, colour and size for production and delivered on time to the various sub-contractors who were either installing onsite or assembling the screening panels offsite.

Futurewood’s composite timber battens combine high resistance to harsh weather with adaptability to suit a wide range of design requirements. Made from reclaimed plastic and cellulose material, the composite timber can withstand the effects of UV rays, rain and bad weather. In addition to providing excellent functionality, the material also meets the aesthetic objectives of any project.

The substations in the Canberra Metro project housed a host of unsightly industrial equipment including box-like transformers. The screening needed to provide secure protection to the units in a visually appealing way. To achieve these design goals, the architects decided on a two-tone colour combination that would make the structure look striking and appealing from a distance as well as up close.

The stunning colour combination that brought to life the architects’ beautiful design concept was an iconic blend of Slate Grey and Chocolate, selected from Futurewood’s broad palette.

For more information about Futurewood’s timber decking, façade panelling and screening products, simply call 1300 484 308, or email [email protected].