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alpha space- experimental living plant sculptures by Lloyd Godman based on the principle of super sustainability - © Lloyd Godman

1200 Buildings Public Art Commission, Melbourne, lloyd godman

Airborne - Proposal for 1200 Buildings public art commission - Melbourne 2011 - the work was selected as one of 11 finalists


Airborne - Lloyd Godman

The bold concept behind this proposal for the 1200 Buildings Public Art Commission is to highlight the unique “green” features of the building at 490 Spencer Street within the greater precinct by installing the world’s first naturally rotating “super sustainable” garden.

The piece proposes to use recycled bicycle frames as support brackets mounted onto the building, and recycled bicycle wheels to mount Tillandsia plants that suspend on wires between the bike frame brackets. The wheels would be located pendant like, outside the meeting room windows on the second floor. proving an airborne living garden without the complexity, weight and infrastructure of a conventional on ground or roof garden. The centre of each of the five wheels would have the plants arranged as a letter to spell the word “GREEN”. Wind would rotate the wheels and spin the letters.

In the afternoon, when any direct sunlight falls onto the wheels and facade of the building, strong shadows will be cast. The shadows will move corresponding to the movement of the sun. Initially the shadows will be cast onto the footpath, then as the sun moves to a more direct angle, they will move up the wall of the building, creating a living sun screen. Shadows will also rotate when the wind blows.

Commissioning the installation of this living sculpture carries the strong environmental ethos of the artist’s recent work based on super sustainability or totally carbon minus, meaning more green output than input. While in situ, the Tillandsias (air plants) continue to grow and self replicate raw materials for future work. Through natural processes the plants offer a carbon positive impact, purify the air, cast shadows creating sun screening, while the intriguing installation challenges the viewer’s perceptions of what plants are and how they grow.

In the spirit of the Green Spaces sustainable retrofit and the philosophy and active lifestyle of the staff who work there, the process of making the living art sculpture would include the use of as many recycled bicycle parts as possible. Potentially the frames and wheels that make up the support structure could actually come from the staff’s old bicycles. With such a high percentage of staff within the building using bicycles, the staff would not only identify with the work, but take ownership in a connected and meaningful manner.

The specialised plants used in this living sculpture require minimal maintenance and in the practice of super sustainability the intention is that by 2014 the plants will have grown enough to divide and create another “sister” work. The physical form, installation, and location of this new plant sculpture would be developed in the future in consultation with the building owner. There may develop the potential to suspend a tensioned wire from the building to a lamp pole across Spencer Street, allowing a dynamic plant spiral to suspend airborne above the traffic.


The brief for this project to the selected artists was that the budget should not exceed $30,000 and that the work had to be launched in November 2011. However on the project managers website the budget was later altered to $50,000 and by March 2015 the project was still not completed.