The Waratah Studio


  • Fleming\'s Nurseries
  • studio505
  • Philip Johnson Landscapes
  • Atkinson Pontifex
  • Plate Alloy and BDD Engineering


The Waratah Studio was designed by studio505 to inspire communion between the occupant and their surrounding natural environment and as a distinctive symbol and sculpture to mark and brand the display gardens it was developed for. The structure has played a key role and featured internationally as the focal point of the Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Flemings at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in May 2013, whose landscape garden design was by Phillip Johnson Landscapes (PJL).

Key Features


1). Engagement with the viewer
As the visitor moves through the Australian Garden, the Waratah Studios articulated shading envelope presents the beholder with a subtly dynamic image, evocative of a blossoming flower. Expressing its communion with the landscape, it is fully permeable to its context, both inwards and outwards. In a display of geometric perfection, when standing inside the structure looking over the garden and landscape, all vision of the timber petals disappears entirely. Step one foot to the right or left, and the petals reappear to remind the voyeur where they are once more.


2). Connection to the environment
The studio is an integrated architecture that works with, enhances and constructs new interpretations of the landscape and natural worlds. The horticultural design of the garden by PJL is a realistic recreation of the billabong and fernery of the Olinda ranges, of the ancient Eden like landscapes of our cool climate forests. This landscape is driven by a philosophy and enthusiasm to understand the natural Australian environment in new (and old) ways- to connect with our fundamental resource water, to work with nature to create sustainable and variegated ecosystems that respond to and require the fluctuations of climate that species have evolved to work with.


3). Underlying geometries
This connectivity to the world, to its underlying rhythms and principles, to the ebb and flow of growth and the seasons, to the floods and drought and births and twilights of the frogs and dragonflies, has been one of the drivers for studio505 to explore the rhythms and geometries that are embedded within the biological world. The underlying maths in flowers, in clouds and in ferns is one that can be harnessed, revealed and expressed as a sheer joyous moment in space and time through an occupied structure such as the waratah studio. The Waratah Studio is solidly geometric and fluidly organic. It is rational and emotional, simple and precious. It reminds us that everything is generated from opposites, in the same way that Australian flowers are born of fire and water through the process of rejuvenation.


4). The Physical Geometry
The spherical fins have been carved and formed to dynamically support each other, and to generate subtle interplays of light and shade within each order. The Geometry of the cube carved from within the sphere is one that has formed a series of similar elevations, yet each with its own quirk or relationship to the overall. The internal Cube is lined in clear acrylic panels, formed to hold the edge and dissolve the corners of the cubical interior.


5). Logistics and Legacy
The studio geometry has also been driven by the fundamental need to be flat packed and transported lightweight across oceans, to be installed and demounted and reinstalled at numerous garden events. The frame is a series of four panel types, site bolted and mounted with tailor made hinges that allow the natural location of the petal fins to be supported on axis to the centre of both the sphere and the cube. This structure has been designed for both the Australian garden in Chelsea, and the Victorian Garden in the 8th National China Flower Show (albeit as a sculptural interpretation) and it is proposed to seek a permanent home in Melbourne International Flower Show as a permanent garden celebrating the success of Australia in winning Best in Show in the 100th Chelsea Flower and Garden Show.

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