Here's how Locker Group helped to bring the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning to life.

Case study: Taronga Institute of Science and Learning


Opened by none other than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning is a world-class facility intended to inspire the next generation of eco-scientists.

Situated within Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, this living laboratory contains scientific spaces, classrooms and active animal habitats. As well as providing an integrated research space for conservationists, this setup helps students connect the dots between the theory and practice of modern day conservation.

Locker Group was proud to be involved in the process of bringing this fantastic structure to life, contributing to the creation of a building that personified both the innovation and values that lie at the heart of this centre.

In this case study we’ll describe what it was like to work on this project, and detail the successes of the finished build.

Locker Group produced perforated panels for use in the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning.The Taronga Institute of Science and Learning will be a centre of researching and study for years to come.

The requirements

Locker Group worked in close consultation with the architects on this project, NBRS Architecture. From the outset, there were two key goals for the Taronga Institute:

  1. A natural aesthetic – The facility needed to blend seamlessly with the natural surroundings of the zoo.
  2. Solid green credentials – The project was targeting a five star Green Star Design and As-Built Rating to fit with the conservation and eco-friendly stance of the institute.

The challenge

Locker Group was tasked with providing a variety of perforated panels for use both on the facade and the atrium of the main building.

The approved design took the form of a honeycomb, which presented our team with a unique challenge. Honeycombs involve a lot of folds, however it’s impossible to fold metal back on a pre-existing fold. Therefore, following a bit of research and development, we made the call to split the original panels into two. This provided a practical solution which met the architects’ briefs, and gave the exterior of the building the nature-inspired aesthetic that the zoo was looking for.

This effect wasn’t only used on the exterior. In places, the panels flow smoothly from the exterior to the interior, providing continuity, and giving the main entry space the same grand and exciting impression.

Locker Group can custsomise perforated metal panels to suit a project's specific requirements. Locker Group provided a variety of perforated panels for use in both the facade and interior of the structure.

The products

The perforated panels used in this project were perfect for meeting the two objectives highlighted above:

1. The aesthetic 

Perforations are ideally suited for matching the appearance of a natural honeycomb. At Locker Group, we can customise the holes to produce different patterns as well as spacings. In the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning project this variety was put to great use, producing a visually interesting structure that’s bound to capture the imagination of anyone approaching the facility.

2. The eco-friendly design

Perforated aluminium was an excellent choice in working towards the dual goals of five star Green Star ratings in both the Design and As-Built categories.

Aluminium is itself among the most eco-friendly metals used in construction. It’s infinitely recyclable, with nearly 75 per cent of all the aluminium ever produced still in use today, according to the Aluminium Association. The metal also has a fantastic strength: weight ratio, meaning that it often requires less manpower and equipment to install than many of its peers.

However, the benefits don’t just come during the design and construction phases. When a building is complete, perforated metal has two major green advantages:

  • Reducing strain on HVAC systems – Perforations allow for an efficient air flow, which aids in keeping a building cool. This is particularly important in large buildings during the height of the Australian summer, where HVAC systems require a lot of energy to impact the space as a whole. In addition, perforated metal makes for a great sun screening material – this helps reduce the amount of heat penetrating the building and also contributes to maintaining a good ambient temperature.
  • Permitting light filtration – Perforations also enable natural light to penetrate a space more efficiently. Not only does this create a more pleasant environment for working and studying, but also reduces the need for artificial lighting, another major drain on electricity.
Perforated metal is a great option to help boost the eco credentials of architectural projects.Perforated metal is an eco-friendly material that takes the strain of HVAC systems through providing sun shading, and allowing air filtration.

The results

The Taronga Insitute of Science and Learning was completed in June 2018, and was officially opened in October of the same year.

It more than achieved its Green Star objectives, becoming certified as a Six Star Green Star Design & As-Built building. Generally speaking, such structures:

  • Recycle a minimum of 96 per cent of their construction and demolition waste.
  • Emit 62 per cent fewer greenhouses gases than a standard Australian building.
  • Consume 51 per cent less drinkable water than the minimum industry standards.

As for the building itself, the facade is a fitting representation of the grand plans that Taronga Zoo has for its new Institute of Science and Learning. Blending beautifully into its natural surroundings, the facility offers a centre for national research and learning, and a platform for leadership in conservation science on the global stage.

Here's some inspiration for architects looking to design a balustrade.

Balustrade design ideas for all situations

Since before Roman times, balustrades have been an architectural mainstay.

You'll find them on buildings of all sizes and significance, from St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City to the apartment block at the end of your road. 

While they can add a touch of class to just about any structure, you need to marry the balustrade to the project in question. In this article we'll take a look at some balustrade design ideas by exploring popular materials, and which situations they best suit.

1. Glass balustrades

Glass balustrades are popular for the sleek, modern aesthetic they can lend to buildings ranging from private homes to corporate headquarters. 

Among the benefits afforded by this type of balustrade are:

  • Light filtration – A glass balustrade won't obstruct the passage of light through a building, helping to create an airy and open feeling within. When used on exteriors, their transparency means they don't obscure views, making them a perfect addition to a balcony.
  • Ease of cleaning – Unlike timber balustrades, glass can be simply wiped clean, this is essential for external balustrades that face the brunt of the elements. 
  • The illusion of more space – When used inside, for example on a staircase, glass balustrades prevent spaces from feeling boxy and small by allowing the eye to travel further. 
  • Durability – Glass used in balustrade design is tempered, providing it with strength equivalent to that of steel.

2. Metal mesh balustrades

Another reliable, low maintenance option comes in the form of metal mesh balustrades. Generally, you have a choice between two types of metal mesh:

  1. Woven wire mesh – In this instance, the strands of wire are woven over and under each other, creating an interlocking sheet.
  2. Welded wire mesh – Here, the crisscrossing wires are spot welded together where they intersect.

Ultimately, the decision comes down to a trade-off between strength and flexibility. Welded wire has extra support behind its joints, but woven sheets will bend further before breaking. Knowing exactly where your balustrade will be, and the degree of wear and tear it's likely to face will be important in making this call.

  • So, where are metal mesh balustrades often employed?

Architects tend to favour this balustrade design type in functional settings, for example industrial facilities. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • They're cost-effective – While the price of metal mesh balustrades will depend largely on the metal you choose to use, this is generally a budget-friendly choice.
  • Their strength – Robustness is normally important in these environments and, whether welded or woven, metal mesh ticks the boxes here.
  • Light filtration – As with glass, mesh allows the passage of light. As well as making for more pleasant working environments, it's important that staff have a clear eyeline as they move around to avoid injuries.

3. Timber balustrades

Timber balustrades are the least functional on this list, usually selected for the sophisticated look they can give to a structure. 

However, they bring more to the table than just a pretty face:

  • Customisation – As an architect, you'll be looking for something that exactly fits your style and size specifications. The good news is that wood is easy to work with, allowing you to create intricate detailing if necessary. 
  • Middle cost – While more expensive than stainless steel, wooden balustrades are usually cheaper than stone, the other material often used to create a classic look.

The most glaring drawback of timber balustrades is their susceptibility to degradation, especially when used outside. However, with regular maintenance, these features can still have a decent lifespan.

4. Stainless steel balustrades

Like glass, stainless steel is often used to establish modernity. The clean lines and shine of stainless steels barriers means they're a popular choice for residential buildings, as well as all corporate settings. 

As well as its polished look, stainless steel offers the following:

  • Corrosion resistance – Thanks to a thin oxide layer that forms on the metal's surface, stainless steel is well protected from rust.
  • Strength – Stainless steel is stronger than aluminium and many other popular architectural metals. 
  • Ease of cleaning – Thanks to its smooth surface, stainless steel features can usually be simply wiped clean, making them a low maintenance option.
  • Green credentials – Wherever possible, architects should be looking to use eco-friendly materials in their designs. Stainless steel fulfills this criteria as it can be 100 per cent recycled, according to the British Stainless Steel Association.
Locker Group can produce balustrades using different metal substrates. Stainless steel is one of our favourites.Stainless steel is a durable and great-looking balustrade material.

Hopefully this article has provided you with some knowledge and inspiration on the different types of balustrades out there. To find out more about how Locker Group can help you with your next architectural project, get in touch with our team today. 

Here is proof that car park architecture can be exciting.

Car park architecture need not be boring: here’s why

Designing car parks – that's the reason you got into architecture, right?

Okay, we understand, a car park project isn't every budding designer's dream, and they're unlikely to fill you with unbridled excitement.

However, don't write them off just yet. In this article we'll draw on our personal experience of working with architects who have gone above and beyond to produce inspiring car park architecture.

Locker Group has collaborated with architects to design car parks in Australia.Car park designs can be challenging and rewarding for architects.

1. Designing for specific functionality 

Think all car park builds are straight forward? Prepare to think again: In some cases you'll have to get creative to fulfill specific aspects of the client brief.

A perfect example of this is the Flinders Medical Centre Car Park in Adelaide. Here, Cheesman architects were tasked with designing a structure that overlooked the medical facility itself, but didn't allow those in the car park a view into patient treatment rooms.

To protect privacy, the team at Cheesman opted to adapt Locker Group's Pic Perf Directions panels by folding and forming them to create a flanged perforation. As well as highlighting the importance of good relationships between architects and suppliers, this example also goes to show that car parks can throw up interesting scenarios that go beyond simply designing an appropriate place to house vehicles.

Architects designing car parks need to collaborate with suppliers to fulfill client briefs.Cheesman architects adpated Locker Group Pic Perf Directions panel for the facade of the Flinders Medical Centre car park.

2. Adding to the cityscape 

With space in Australian cities coming at a premium, multistory car parks will continue to proliferate for years to come. From an architect's point of view, the large facades that come with such buildings offer an opportunity to add your aesthetic stamp to the cityscape.

This was certainly the case with Adelaide's Young Street Car Park. Also undertaken by Cheesman Architects, this project proves once and for all that car park architecture can be far from boring. 

The imposing 525 panel frontage uses Locker Group's Pic Perf technology to create a beautiful image of Shanghai's impressive skyline. We designed Pic Perf specifically for functions like this, to give architects the capacity to use the perforations to build images of their choice, and we were thrilled with the results from this project.

As well as looking good, the use of pierced metal allows for great ventilation which prevents this car park from becoming stuffy and humid during the height of the South Australian summer.

Locker Group's Pic Perf panels allow architects to project images onto buildings.The Young Street car park in Adelaide features an image of the Shanghai skyline.

3. Creating a statement 

Our final example of outstanding Australian car park architecture is also found in Adelaide, and comes from another of our architect partners – Hames Sharley.

Positioned close to important amenities such as Rundle Mall and Adelaide Central Market, the designers of the Franklin Street Car Park wanted to create a bold, modern facade that would catch the eye of any passerby.

Again, collaboration was the order of the day, and we modified our standard slotted perforated facade to incorporate sections both with and without holes. By juxtaposing these two sections, Hames Sharley were able to generate a smooth linear effect that gives the car park a smart and sophisticated look.

Car parks architecture can be engaging for designers. The Franklin Street car park has a sleek, modern exterior.

These three case studies go to show that designing a car park can be both challenging and rewarding for architects. As always, a key ingredient for a successful project is having a manufacturer and supplier you know you can rely on. As all the above examples demonstrate, Locker Group has the capacity to adapt its products to suit individual build requirements. This means that when a seemingly simple design takes a complicated turn, we're with you every step of the way.

For more information on how you can benefit from our years of expertise, get in touch with our team today. 

A reliable supplier is a key ingredient for success in architecture.

3 characteristics architectural suppliers must have

Architecture is an ever-changing industry.

Trends in aesthetics, materials and techniques never sit still for long, and you need to ensure your builds stay with the times.

A key ingredient in this is finding the right product supplier to partner with. Our 2018 Look Book gives in-depth insights into how we at Locker Group work with our architectural clients to ensure successful outcomes on every project. 

In this article, we'll draw out some of the key takeaways from that publication to show you how to make your next supplier is the right fit.

1. Flexibility

We'll start with probably the most important characteristic a supplier can have – flexibility. Architectural projects are dynamic, so you need to be sure that those providing your materials can adapt with you as circumstances dictate.

It's all well and good for a firm to claim to produce 'the best' of a given product, but if they can only manufacture it at a given size, you're going to hit roadblocks when these dimensions aren't appropriate. 

Locker Group's technicians pride themselves on their ability to meet any client brief. For example, when we partnered with Hames Sharley on building the Franklin Street Car Park in Adelaide, we modified our slotted perforated facade to include both perforated and unperforated sections, creating the linear look they sought. 

Locker Group works closely with its architectural partners to ensure great results.You need to be sure that your supplier can meet the unique requirements of your project.

2. Scalability 

Ultimately, you need to feel confident that quantity won't be an issue for your chosen supplier before embarking on the build. 

When working with Cheesman Architects on the Flinders Medical Centre Car Park, over 2,500 of our Pic Perf Directions panels were used. Again, these products had to be adjusted for the unique requirements of the design, but we rose to the challenge of producing the vast quantities needed.

3. Reliability 

Deadlines are always a concern in architecture, and any hold-ups in products arriving can have drastic knock-on effects for the rest of project. Ensuring that your supplier has a proven track record for delivering on time, therefore, is a must.

One of our proudest moments in recent times was the opening of the Mirvac Riverside Quay building in Melbourne. This exciting office space now plays host to PwC, as well as the architects who designed it, Fender Katsalidis. Completed two months ahead of schedule, this was a great example of all parties working together, with fantastic results.

To learn more about these projects, and many more, download our 2018 Look Book today!  


These three commercial building facades will give you the inspiration you need for your next architectural project.

3 commercial building facades to inspire your next project

In the commercial world a lot rides on impressions.

Think about it – would you shop, or enter into business, with a company that appeared outdated, chaotic or disorderly? 

Given that we know facades can have significant psychological impacts on passers-by, when you're designing a frontage for a commercial building the pressure is on to get it right,

This article will take an in-depth look at three exteriors that exemplify how architects can help companies put their best foot forward when it comes to building facades. 

Locker Group can help you create a building facade that makes a lasting impression.The facade on a commercial building needs to make a good first impression.

What is a facade?

There are many elements that make up an effective architectural project, so to clarify the area of focus for each of the below case studies, we're going to start by defining what we mean by a facade. 

The Collins Dictionary definition of a facade is a building's 'front wall, or the wall that faces the street'. For commercial enterprises, the significance of this part of their premises cannot be overstated. The frontage is the view that will greet customers and potential business partners as they approach an establishment.

Ideally a facade should make a statement, differentiating the building from those that surround it, and helping to establish an identity for the organisation that owns it. 

Here are three that have achieved all of the above, and then some. 

1. Hispasat Technology Centre, Madrid

The intricate frontage on the Hispasat Technology Centre in Madrid, Spain is a truly awe-inspiring site.

This facade combines aluminium panels coated with three slightly different tones of lacquer to create an ethereal effect. The futuristic design draws on space as its muse, highlighting the company's role in managing satellites. Due to the reflective nature of the aluminium, the building's appearance changes with the weather, and at night the whole structure is lit up from the outside.

However, the design is not entirely aesthetics oriented, the geometric latticework exterior serves to control the amount of sunlight that enters the office. As well as contributing to comfortable working conditions for staff, this helps boost the green credentials of this build by minimising heat loss and gain, therefore reducing the need for HVAC systems.

2. Deloitte Bygget, Oslo

Norwegian architect firm Snøhetta were commissioned in 2007 to start working on a design for the new Deloitte office in the country's capital, Oslo.

When the building was finished, in 2013, the results of their work were simply stunning. And it had to be. Situated directly opposite the new Oslo Opera House, itself an architectural masterpiece, and surrounded by skyscrapers, Deloitte Bygget had to fight to stand out. At the same time, however the architects had to conform to Oslo's barcode development pattern – consisting of tall, narrow, high-rise buildings.

Also known as Isfjellet, the inspiration for this commercial building facade comes from a breaking glacier, referencing the beautiful landscapes of Norway's arctic north. This effect is successfully achieved through the combination of the buildings' clean lines, and the fractured geometric pastern that spans the entirety of the frontage.

3. Mirvac Riverside Quay, Melbourne

Bringing things a little closer to home, the last entry in our list of commercial building facades is the Mirvac building at 2 Riverside Quay, Melbourne. 

This project saw a collaboration between Locker Group and Fender Katsalidis architects, with an emphasis on eye-catching visuals and sustainability.  

Two of our perforated metal panels were used in this design:

Aero 400 range: Available in a variety of materials and thicknesses, these products are designed with facade-use specifically in mind. While already offering a striking aesthetic, their optics can be further enhanced through anodising or powder coating. In this case, Fender Katsalidis opted for the latter, creating a compelling effect when the sun strikes this north-facing structure.

Pic Perf: These panels allow architects to create intricate imagery using the perforations. In the case of Mirvac Riverside Quay, this was used to create the undualting patterns that make the building such an interesting addition to Melbourne's beautiful Southbank.

More details on this project, and many more, can be found in Locker Group's 2018 Look Book.

Hopefully these three examples have got your creative juices flowing, and given you some ideas for how you can approach your next commercial building facade project. For more information on how Locker Group can work with you to bring your designs to life, or for details on our architectural products, get in touch with our team today.