Wolfgang Buttress, The Australian National University, Canberra ACT

UNA, formed by sculptor Wolfgang Buttress, was commissioned in 2012 for the new medical science precinct at The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. The research into digitally plotting the stars was done in collaboration with respected astrophysicist Dr. Daniel Bayliss of ANU.

A highly polished 4m diameter stainless steel sphere features 9,100 laser cut perforations which accurately map the stars visible to the naked eye in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, which are laser cut according to their luminosity.

The inner sphere reflects rays of light, adding a magical dimension to the artwork experience. Peering through the perforation of a single ‘star’ the viewer is suddenly captivated by a field of cosmic vision. The highly polished inner sphere reflects tiny rays of light filtering through the outer ball. Bouncing off the polished inner surfaces, the effect, at different times of the day, reveals a beautiful and entirely different universe.

Integration into the university site was paramount, active collaboration between the project team ensured UNA sits perfectly within the outdoor courtyard and lecture theatre – which acts as the connecting space between medical science faculties.

UNA expresses the essence of the immediate scientific, built and natural environment. It also asks questions about our relation with and suggests the enormity and untouchable presence of the stars. You can see but you cannot touch. We are contextual but also transient.
Rebecca Townsend project managed the delivery of UNA by Wolfgang Buttress for the ANU’s new medical science precinct.  It was a unique project in that the site was in Canberra, the artist in the UK, Lyons Architects are in Melbourne and the artwork was fabricated in Brisbane.  It is a credit to Rebecca’s rigorous project management and communication skills that the delivery of UNA has been the smoothest public art project in my 30 years in the job. Ian Duff

Senior Project Coordinator, Project Delivery Facilities & Services Division, ANU