Architects working on a new development in St Kilda partnered with Interpon Powder Coatings to help realise the artist’s vision for the building’s facade.

Described as a ‘liveable Lego tower’, The Icon rises in tiered rainbow cubes that appear to balance like building blocks. The aptly named building is wrapped in expanded aluminium mesh that changes colour with the movement of sunlight.

Artist Matthew Johnson worked with Jackson Clements Burrows Architects to conceptualise the distinctive complex. The vision was brought to life by Interpon Powder Coatings, which came on board as a collaborative partner.

Gareth Connell, Regional Specification, Interpon explained that they were involved with the project right from the start and were brought in to discuss with Pace Developments, the colour and product selection for the external facade.

Ian Dunstan, southern regional sales manager at Locker Group, a manufacturer of perforated and expanded metal, said they were asked by Pace to quote with the product already powder coated. Interpon was able to develop the colour range separately, meet the design brief and provide an ultra-durable coating system that met the expectations of all parties.

Artist Matthew found the team at Interpon very accommodating, engaged and professional in taking the concept on board. He explained that they were able to manifest unique colours based on the ratios he created with their chemist, inventing a whole new series of colours.

Though Interpon has collaborated on several high profile property developments and high rises over the years, The Icon was one of the most unique projects with many distinct characteristics.

According to Gareth, expanded aluminium mesh is formed by shearing and expanding aluminium sheet to create the ‘3D form’ effect. A visually appealing system for a facade, the shearing of the metal can present issues with very sharp edges, particularly in aggressive coastal environments. Given the location in St Kilda with the bay just over 1.5km away, environmental considerations such as UV degradation, exposure to corrosive sea salts and prevailing winds also needed to be considered.

Interpon specified a specific duplex or two-layer powder finishing system consisting of a controlled preparation process for the expanded aluminium sheets. An epoxy barrier primer was specified to provide enhanced protection and build the sharp edges in order to minimise issues associated with filiform corrosion. The ultra-durable polyester powder top coat was developed in 34 distinct colours.

Powder coating specialists Mansutti Bros applied the colour range on the facade mesh with the team led by managing director Claude Mansutti refinishing hundreds of mesh panels over a period of nine months.