Finalist 2021

The Crossing

Australian Open Tennis Tournament / Nicholas Azidis / Rose Staff

Wayfinding design giving spatial identity to the steps leading into the Margaret Court Arena for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament.

Wayfinding design to give spatial identity to the steps leading into the Margaret Court Arena for the Australian Open Tennis Tournament.

Design Brief

Respond to the theme ‘A place where nothing is impossible’ by creating a site specific installation in the grounds of the Melbourne Park. Provide a space that people could interact with and have photographic opportunities that are shareable moments for the public to take home with them from their experience of being at the Tennis Tournament.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

In responding to the brief we explored what the visitor experience would be as they enter Melbourne Olympic Park. We thought about where their journey would take them and which parts along the way that would be important to activate. We considered what potential landmarks could be explored for the project so that if you were new to the arena and got lost in crowds you would be easily able to find your way again.

Many visitors attending ticketed tournaments would often stay on after their event had finished and simply walk around Melbourne Olympic Park to enjoy the atmosphere. For this reason we wanted to make a fun and colourful piece that people could interact with so that their whole experience at the event was entertaining, not just while they were watching the game.

The decision to use the staircase leading into the Margaret Court Arena as the site for this installation was due to its sculptural qualities that could support our concept. It also creatively contributed to the visitor experience.

Each rise of a step holds one fraction of a larger image. When viewed at the base of the staircase, the individual elements join together to make the artwork as a whole. In the same way we might think that our individual efforts towards a more sustainable future might seem futile against the larger issues of global warming and irreversible ecological damage. Yet its everyone's small steps that together make a greater impact as a whole.

If we work together then 'nothing is impossible,' including the formidable task of tackling climate change.

Design Excellence

This work titled 'The Crossing' provides a physical artwork that you can walk upon, interact with and be surrounded by. This artwork is to be touched, to be climbed, to be photographed and to be felt. It is a staircase covered with vibrant and brightly coloured imagery inspired by the flowers of Australia's exotic and unique natural flora and fauna.

It provides a bright landmark for people walking around the Melbourne Park so that they can find their way easily to their destination or connect with friends. It also is a creative way to mark out the space with vibrant colours to make it more safe for the public. This helps minimize the risk of hazardous slips and falls on the staircase with crowds of people. The high visibility of the stairs is critical to ensure that a person can prepare to coordinate their gait during stair ascent and descent.

Design Innovation

This project explores design innovation through public space activation. It transforms a site into a place that is both entertaining, functional and thought provoking. It looks at reinventing a location to be used in new creative ways.

This work is an aesthetic installation that is appealing though bright bold colours set against formal black and white patterns. At the same time it still continues to be a functional space that allows large volumes of people to pass across it as they enter the building to watch the game. It provides a platform for deeper contemplation on political and social issues facing contemporary society.

Design Impact

The physical experience of walking across a staircase and making it to the highest step offers a person the opportunity to ponder things from a distance. Crossing a great series of steps has often been a symbolic part of a pilgrims journey as they find their way to greater insight and awareness through acts of physical endurance.

Those that labour to the top are given in return the perspective to see connections between places at the ground level and link familiar ideas with abstract ones. It is an opportunity to survey the landscape ahead and think about what is next to come in the near future once they descend again.

This symbolic act of ascending and descending a staircase is a device used to bring about deeper thinking on global environmental issues by the audience.

We are coming close to crossing the point of no return where we pass through a climate threshold of a global temperature rise of 2°C above pre-industrial levels. At this point we will enter a feedback loop of global warming. Australia's natural heritage is at great risk and we are already seeing the impacts of climate change.

Covid-19 shows that at the point of crisis which endangers many people's lives it is possible to change human behaviour on a global scale. All around the world people have been disrupted from their usual work schedule to self isolate in order to stop the continued spread of the disease. During the Covid-19 shutdown of 2020 people stopped flying, factories stopped polluting and the environmental benefits were highly visible. Waterways cleared and animals returned to places they had not been in significant numbers for decades due to human impact on the environment. It shows us that it is possible to change human behaviour when it is life threatening.

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