In 1903 on the tiled walls of the Flinders St Station subway at Elizabeth St in Melbourne, signs asking the public to “Do Not Spit” were hand painted in place, and have been preserved to this day. ARM Architecture translated them and other graphics found on the walls, into artwork for new glass screens taking commuters along a 90m journey through the bustling underground station. It is timely to reflect on these words echoing from the past, redesigned into a rasterized, moving, shifting and modern graphic that follows along as people rush by. Known as “ghost signs”, the historical meaning of these ones in particular, resonate in the turbulent landscape that we find ourselves in 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic has consumed our lives, and a plethora of hygiene messaging has instilled in us new norms. Today’s social distancing signage may one day also become historical relics. It’s hard to believe there existed a time when spitting in public in was widely acceptable, until the scientific discovery that refraining from spitting and coughing could prevent the spread of deadly tuberculosis. The simple hygiene measures were global, as they are again today.

Photo by Cleigh Moores

The glass screens designed by ARM Architecture, carrying the new colourful artwork, are a robust custom laminate makeup of 13.52mm Low Iron Toughened glass. The brilliant coloured panels are a carefully selected range of 6 colours which the architects drew inspiration for from the original cream tiles in the subway and the coloured tiles which framed them. The colours move from light gold to tangerine, mustard and dark rusty reds, transitioning from light to dark and back again along the walkway.

Creating spectacular coloured glass requires specialty knowledge. Cooling Brothers uses Vanceva interlayers which are specifically designed to be combined in layers to create thousands of custom colours. Using this system, the architects were easily able to order small samples to ensure they had the exact colours they were looking for, prior to adding the graphic printed elements. Most of the selected colours were complex with multiple shades required to achieve the specified hues.

For longevity and opacity, ARM Architecture chose to print on the glass surface using ImagInk. The printed surface is encapsulated within the glass, easily withstanding endless wear and tear or attempted vandalism. Printed with 720dpi precision, the vector graphics are perfectly transposed in 2 colours across the panels to portray fine dots and linear elements within the design. With a mixture of sections of clear and printed glass, there is easy vision throughout the entire walkway for commuters.

In terms of production logistics, the complexity for manufacture was in coordinating 188 printed and toughened panels, 376 coloured Vanceva and clear PVB interlayers, (totaling 480sqm of interlayer) through the production facility. This meant every coloured interlayer needed to be in the right place at the right time. The process was tightly streamlined into colour groups, printing groups, then completely re-arranged into sequential order for the installation team at MCT Construction, in Melbourne. Of course, all to tight deadlines and even a flash flood in the tunnel during the process!

For the Cooling Brothers team, it was fantastic to be involved in another creative glass project in Victoria that can be enjoyed by the public. In the coming months we hope to share more ways glass can be used to create public and private spaces that are both functional, decorative and innovative. With the new Cooling Brothers Glass Melbourne processing facility in Epping, we will continue to deliver our high quality service even more efficiently for your next project.

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Project Details

Location

Architect

Installation

Photography

Glass

Flinders St Station Subway at Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC

ARM Architecture

MCT Constructions

‘Do Not Spit’ Image by  Cleigh Moores / Location photography by Jacky Sargood

13.52mm Low Iron Toughened Laminate, ImagInk, Vanceva

Project Details

Flinders St Station Subway at Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC

ARM Architecture

MCT Constructions

‘Do Not Spit’ Image by  Cleigh Moores / Location photography by Jacky Sargood

13.52mm Low Iron Toughened Laminate, ImagInk, Vanceva

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