Ronstan Ribbons of Light

Ronstan Tensile Architecture provides full-service engineering, design assistance, and installation services for an innovative catenary lighting system that spirals through the Watergardens Town Centre in Taylor Lakes, Victoria.

Watergardens Town Centre is a 56 hectare community hub that offers shopping, dining, entertainment, hospitality, and other business services. The area has been a vibrant and growing part of Taylor Lakes township since its 1997 opening, attracting droves of visitors to its 200+ specialty stores and community events.

Recently, the Centre has expanded to include a dining-focused "eat street" called Station Streat, which is now outfitted with a custom Ronstan catenary lighting system. This system, designed by Electrolight and Ronstan, stylishly assists in making the area functional after dark without being obstructive to walking paths. More importantly, the system creates a spectacular entry statement with its unconventional 3-D "ribbon like" design that speaks to the geometric language of the Centre's existing graphic motif.

"The idea was to create a lighting scheme that gives a sense of movement and direction," explains Paul Beale, Director at Electrolight. "We endeavoured to create a visual link from the Centre's train station to the main entrance and shopping areas, while also highlighting the eddies of other parts in the complex that may have otherwise gone unnoticed."

The simple, thin curves of the system are intended to reinforce the Watergardens brand and encourage engagement with the precinct as a whole. Conceptually, the structure creates a luminous manifestation of the journey made by visitors from their arrival to their destinations within the complex. Strategic points along the paths employ a "bursting fireworks" design in which smaller lines emanate from larger points, reminiscent of iron filings drawn toward a magnetic centre. This composition helps to draw attention to specific areas while promoting a continuous flow of traffic throughout Watergardens.

"This system is wonderfully representative of the potential that tensile architecture can achieve," says Sascha Humphreys, Sales Manager for Ronstan. "The structure is intricate in design and installation, but its execution appears effortless. We are proud of the way our products can accommodate innovative concepts like this one, and we are glad to contribute to the project with technical assistance."

The complex system employs Ronstan ACS2-Type 1 cables with toggles and turnbuckles. A rolled steel tube structure upholds luminaries from above, creating overlapping tracks of light that wind through the space in whimsical contours. The tubes are bent to various radii and lengths, then are joined together and rotated at joints to create the smooth spline curves. The steel tubing is held in place by a series of tensioned cables, which tie back to surrounding buildings. The fixtures are rigid and durable, but optically provide an impression of motion that is appropriate for the communal atmosphere of the Centre.

"The great thing about the Ronstan design is that it reduces the visual clutter in the precinct by minimizing supporting infrastructure like poles," continues Beale. "Ronstan products are designed to be as visually unobtrusive as possible, and the end result is stunning."

The project team for Watergardens Centre consisted of design and concept specialist Electrolight (Melbourne, VIC) and general contractor Thinc Projects (Melbourne, VIC).

"We have worked successfully with Ronstan on previous projects, and we knew we needed the market leader to partner with us on such a challenging enterprise," says Beale. "As expected, the Ronstan team was very accommodating and worked with us very collaboratively throughout the entire process."

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