March 22, 2015

Grocon building a tribute to indigenous culture and unity

The official unveiling of Grocon’s newest building will take place on March 5 with a unique façade dedicated to William Barak, the last of the traditional ngurungaeta (chief) of the Yarra Yarra tribe, belonging to the Wurundjeri Willam clan.

As ngurungaeta, Barak was both a skilled diplomat and politician and famously walked from Coranderrk to Melbourne to negotiate and fight for the social justice of his people. Towards the end of his life, Barak produced a number of intricate artworks that documented the traditions of the Wurundjeri people, to ensure that knowledge of their culture would be preserved and continued for future generations.

In recognition of the thousands of years of deep history that the Wurundjeri have in this place, and the fact that the Tribe is today a strong and proud people very much part of modern Australia, the building is a dedication to all Wurundjeri people past, present and future.

The building’s façade features an 85 metre high artist’s representation of William Barak and is located at the northern end of the Swanston Street axis, while the Southern end of the axis terminates at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, which pays homage to our post contact history.

Working with ARM architects and leading Australian artist Peter Schipperheyn, Grocon has used innovative technology and architectural design to figure an impression of William Barak into the balcony profile of the 30 storey structure which becomes more visible at a greater distance from the building.

Using a bit map line-art reduction, ARM has sculpted the balcony balustrades to render the image legible at a distance. Using an approach known as Xylography, the portrait has been reduced to the critical black and white line elements and these have then been magnified to become the balustrade shapes.

Grocon is still not completely satisfied with the resemblance to William Barak and will be spending the next six months making sure it is perfect, in close consultation with Wurundjeri Elders.

Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Joy Murphy said:

“The Wurundjeri people have been custodians of this land for many millennia.  We respectfully acknowledge our ancestors for their continuing presence of spirit on our traditional lands.  We are proud of the suggestion by Grocon and ARM for the use of an image of William Barak on the Swanston Square building.  Barak was a much respected Ngurungaeta of the Wurundjeri people.   His image acknowledges the past and embraces the present and future of cultures working together.”

Grocon CEO Carolyn Viney said:

“The idea stemmed from our desire to do something very meaningful in the context of the project’s location opposite the Shrine of Remembrance.  We read of William Barak’s life and work and saw an opportunity to celebrate Australia’s shared identity – where we have come from – and to raise the profile of the Wurundjeri people and culture both in Victoria and nationally.  The building strongly resonates with Grocon’s values and will join the suite of other memorable Grocon buildings which have defined modern Melbourne’s skyline; demonstrating Grocon’s continued commitment to design excellence along with its values of Community and Innovation.”

For further information please contact:

The Mint Partners

Felicity Burridge

Ph: 02 9280 2133

Mob: 0415 173 593

Email: [email protected]

Brett Galvin

Ph: 02 9280 2133

Mob: 0414 918 936

[email protected]

Nightingale Communications

Lisa Keenan

Ph: 03 9614 6930

Mob: 0409 150 771

Email: [email protected]

Sarah Kerr

Ph: 03 9614 6930

Mob: 0409 668 824

[email protected]