BHP Billiton Platypusary

Emily Kngwarreye, when badgered to name her works, posited only ” awelye “, “the lot”, “the whole bang lot” It is an exclamation that describes an irrevocable connectedness of all things. It is an idea that has been given a great deal of thought here, particularly in light of what might be ” awelye ” in our current cultural condition. The BHP Billiton Platypusary does not attempt a faux naturalism, rather it accepts the irony of its materiality and folds it into a form that metaphorically describes its evolution from another part of everything; us.

Somehow, from somewhere it jumped up. Truly inspired by the magnificence of its little inhabitants; the Platypuses, Barak and Binnari, and nested in Healesville Sanctuary- this new architecture wants to connect the sky with the land, the breeze through the brocade of gold leaves, the light to its skin, the human to the platypus, and it attempts to do so through material and form.

It appears to have its own nascent formula or code from which all of the components stem. Two bright gold steel conjoined ovuloids arch over the new habitat providing enclosure and predator protection. They are in a way, a tripartite exoskeleton, which supports an internal radial, scalar skin of gold leafy panels. The radial panels overlap to follow the secret formula and, like a tree start solid and dissipate to the thin outer edges. The sun passes through these to cast intricate shadows and generate high definition reflections into each and every marble that is the Platapusary ground plane. Water, cascading and shifting through the pools, in turn, provides eternally different refractions cast upon the gold panels, reiterating the constant connection and reflection.

The viewer is encapsulated within the ovuloid, under the exoskeleton, ensuring they too become part of the sparkle motion – so that in some strange way, they are a part of this “awelye”, while the architecture rebukes the age old endeavor of simulating, or ascending toward the heavens through a non transcendental exploration of the here and now.


  1. See Germain Greer, ‘Whitefella Jump Up; the shortest way to nationhood’, Quarterly Essay, Issue 11, 2003 p.16