Creatively repurposing objects is one of the most popular design trends of the century, and it represents a win-win outcome for environmentalists, artists and designers alike. One stunning example of one these transformations is a massive art installation in Sydney, Australia.
It is titled Interloop. The University of Sydney Architecture Professor Chris Fox came up with the design for the structure. It consists of parts collected from an aging wooden escalator that had been removed to create the space for a more modern and updated steel structure to replace it. Fox opted to salvage the parts and use them to create this beautiful and unique piece. It is housed in Wynard Station, an underground commuter rail station located in the heart of Sydney, which means lots of foot traffic.
The timber escalators date back to 1931 when they were originally installed in the station.
The project involved a collaboration between Fox, COX Architecture, 2 engineering firms, and 4 additional independents teams that carried out the installation and execution of some of the artistic components. A complex system of aluminum bracing supports and framing supports were used in the suspension.
Fox describes the scale of the structure, as well as articulating his vision for the project: “The vast, twisting accordion-shaped sculpture reconfigures the Heritage escalators that once stood there in a stitched form. Suspended between two ends of the building, Interloop measures more than fifty metres in length, weighs over five tonnes, and weaves in 244 wooden treads and four combs from the original escalators. Whilst paying homage to the past, it also, simultaneously, looks forward to the future.”
One man, Jim of Wahroonga, recalled the excitement of experiencing the original escalator during a trip Sydney back in the 1930s: "Coming from a small country town, one of the things we had to do was to see and walk on the moving the stairs," he shared. Train station visitors like of Wahroonga, no doubt, were some of the people Fox had in mind throughout the execution of the project.
The structure took 2 days to erect and involved a significant coordination of efforts. An excess of one kilometer of welding was required to pull the large aluminum base together, carried out at an offsite location. A total of 16 sections had to be transported to Wynyard for the final stage of the project. In all, more than 8 months of intensive planning, work and design went into the finished project.
One could argue that Fox’s focus is more on historic preservation (Wynyard station is listed as both a historic heritage and archaeological site), as opposed to repurposing, although “Interloop” seems to be an example of an overlap of the two intentions. Fox’s work proves that the march of progress in our world can occur in a way that pays tribute to our respective historical legacies. Moreover, this marriage of the old and the new guarantees that future generations will not have to wonder what once was.