Turning Water into Pine

The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre is an oasis for marine research, education and development. Working under a wooden sea, […]


The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre is an oasis for marine research, education and development. Working under a wooden sea, visitors are connected to the environment through the ceiling which was designed to compliment the purpose of the building.

Like most educational institutions, The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre was a sterile, purpose-built facility. The design focused on supporting the important work that would be carried out, so advanced technology, practicality, function and safety were at the forefront of its development. Home to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, WA Department of Fisheries and UWA’s Oceans Institute, there was a vision to bring the ocean into the building to create an inspiring workplace environment.

The result was years of collaboration; from the concept from Ferguson Architects to the Project Management from builder’s BGC Construction. Working together towards a common goal, the communication between the different parties enabled the project to be brought to life. Associated Shopfitters Pty Ltd partnered with Ferguson Architects early on and were brought on to engineer the unique blade system that would bring the wave effect to life.

Associated Shopfitters Pty Ltd, or ASF, transform commercial and residential spaces into functional and beautiful environments. With the likes of Myer, ANZ, McDonalds, Subway and San Churro under their belt, it’s no doubt they’re trusted with projects that see huge measures of foot traffic. The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre was a new challenge for ASF and the team rallied together to bring to life a masterpiece.


The major challenge for ASF was to avoid the metal hangings that are often associated with the installation of the blade system. Big metal hangings would distract from the aesthetics of the design and take away from the intended effect – in other words, it would have been ugly. So ASF created a variety of unique components that were manufactured off-site. Each module was crafted together and then C & L Ceilings were brought in to install them – all 270 of them.

In the middle of upgrading from Pytha to TopSolid’Wood, ASF began the set out in Pytha and then began from scratch and re-built each component in TopSolid’Wood to deliver accurate results that easily translated to the machinery. Creating a unique system that delivered the visual aesthetics and also allowed for freedom for essential elements such as electrical functions was a huge task, but the results show the skill, innovation and professionalism that is possible when combining over sixty years of experience with the most advanced and modern technology.

ASF Managing Director, Greg Abbott, credits the teamwork, the vision and TopSolid’Wood with the project’s success, “After five years, I still can’t believe how progressive and powerful the software is. Each time I use it I’m amazed. It’s flexible and as far as our tests have proved – limitless.” Turning Hoop Pine Multi Ply into an ocean might have seemed an impossible task, but the ASF team have proven that anything is possible with the right team and the right tools.

Welcoming and mesmerising, the entrance of the The Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre swells above you and comes alive as you enter, transforming the science lab into a serene space for inspiration, innovation and collaboration. As you hear the ocean in the background and enter the corridors rolling with wooden waves, you can’t help but be inspired to dive beneath the surface.



One thought on “Turning Water into Pine

  1. When only the best will do and in this case , this is the best .
    Congratulations to the entire team at ASF .
    Mentions go to the management team for yet another outstanding project .
    Greg Abbott , Reg Abbott , Paul Pace and Janine Hinds .

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