Tensile was engaged to design and build a bespoke perforated copper facade on the exterior of the Bendigo Law Courts building in Victoria. The Tensile team also installed a vertical cable balustrade with atrium barriers in the main foyer atrium of the building.

The innovative facade depicts the ancestral wedge-tail eagle 'Bunjil' soaring over the Dja Dja Wurrung people's land. It is Australia's first cable-supported facade of this size, and it was extremely challenging to construct it. However, the effort was well worth it with Tensile drawing upon their previous experience of building the copper facade at the Sibyl Centre on the Sydney University Women’s College campus to make this installation happen.

Tensile also banked on their considerable experience in building atrium barriers to create the foyer balustrade, which came with its own set of complexities.

Designed by Wardle and built by Kane Constructions, the five-storey Bendigo Law Courts building features warm natural colours and textiles, and scattered artworks. It was designed to respond to the environment, to be welcoming and non-threatening, and to deliver culturally sensitive, empathetic services to vulnerable people in the region.

At Tensile, it’s important for us to understand the intent of the building in order to create a facade and balustrade that complement its design and purpose.

A two-scope job

The first scope was to support the copper panels on the facade. Tensile used 8mm stainless steel cables spanning 18 metres to suspend the panels, including those depicting the eagle. The team’s focus on the smallest of details helped create the crisp, clean and lightweight appearance of the facade.

Specialised components and a high level of integration with the consultant team and surrounding trades contributed to the successful installation. Extensive testing was undertaken in a wind tunnel to measure for resonance and frequency of the facade.

The final structure was built to a tolerance level of 1-2mm – not an easy feat for a facade of this scale and a credit to the Tensile team, who once again are pioneers of the industry.

The second scope was to build the vertical cable atrium balustrade, with the team using 5mm diameter stainless steel cables set at 80mm intervals.

There were challenges along the way – in the form of some complicated geometry and junctions, especially around the stairwell, which were addressed successfully to create the desired outcomes.

Tensile has built many transparent vertical cable atrium balustrades similar to the Bendigo Law Courts installation. The beauty of this type of barrier is in how it provides a high level of safety and security while allowing for full use of the upper-level spaces, right up to the edge of the void. It manages to do this without blocking natural light or compromising on aesthetics.

The finished result

This was a challenging project that pushed the envelope in several ways. But this is exactly what we love at Tensile – gaining a deep understanding of the client’s needs and arriving at the best solution to match, overcoming any obstacles along the way.

The result is a stunning and bespoke facade, complemented by the elegance of tensile stainless steel cabling, and we are proud to have participated in making it all happen.