Bent Metal Spirit of Progress


‘Spirit Of Progress’ – Donnybrae Main Entrance Sculpture


Donnybrae Estate, Donnybrook, Melbourne


May 2020


Owner: Dennis Family Corporation

Builder / Contractor/ Fabricator: Bent Metal

Town Planner and Urban Designer: Tract

Galvanizer: Geelong Galvanizing

Painter : Geelong Galvanizing.


In the second half of the 19th century, a north eastern railway line connecting Melbourne to Sydney was constructed. This railway line featured a single platform station, opened near Rocky Water Holes in 1872.

Today, Rocky Water Holes is known as the Donnybrae Estate. Currently undergoing significant development, the Donnybrae Estate will form part of a larger principality: the Donnybrook and Woodstock precincts within the City of Whittlesea. The area will see a new era of growth in population and activity, connecting the local area to Melbourne’s Central Business District like never before. The entrance to the Donnybrae Estate on Donnybrook Road will have a contemporary urban design that features the ‘Spirit of Progress’ sculpture, which was hot dip galvanized by Geelong Galvanizing.

The Spirit of Progress sculpture was designed to honour the importance of the train line’s influence in Donnybrae’s development. As such, it relies upon the idea of the moving train as both the genesis for its design and a metaphor for progress and development in the local area.

Comprised of two intertwined sweeping arcs in a conical helix, the sculpture is 5,700mm high and 1,700mm wide. The entire sculpture was constructed in mild steel, weighing just over 500 kgs each.

This steel was then galvanized and finished in part with a copper enriched protective coating (Dulux Weathermax HBR). Superior to automotive paint, the combination of galvanizing and the protective coating delivered a highly durable finish with an extended time to first maintenance. It will provide an effective barrier against graffiti and resist repeated cleaning by most propriety graffiti removal agents; it has excellent resistance to splash and spillage of most acids.

The superior quality of the finish specified means that the surfaces of the sculpture are scratch resistant, and can also be sanding for excellent re-coating. The panelled nature of the sculpture surface will also allow smaller areas to be masked out and easily repainted if required.

The sculpture features several coloured highlight panels. The colour scheme was specifically chosen to represent several aspects: the muted blues with gold pinstripes are a reference to historic train commuters; the red is a reference to historic car commuters; and dark, burnished copper is utilised as the dominant colour to integrate seamlessly with its surrounds and draw on indigenous heritage. All these coloured panels had to be carefully integrated into the galvanizing process.

The use of galvanizing on the sculpture has afforded the client several benefits. It has provided the structure with the ideal corrosion protection; there is no other option available that could have delivered the same combination of an aesthetically striking finish, superior durability, upfront affordability, and low ongoing maintenance costs.

The galvanizing industry will benefit from this award in several ways. The project demonstrates the benefits that galvanizing can deliver in sculptural purposes (for which galvanizing is often overlooked). The project has pushed the limits of galvanizing and demonstrates that galvanizing can be used in a broad range of applications, far beyond its traditional use of protecting structural steel. Galvanizing has a major role to play in projects that require improved aesthetics, as well as improved durability. A fantastic showpiece of galvanizing and duplex coating, the sculpture is a prime example of a fully protected, durable system that will catch the attention of all that pass by.

In addition, the project demonstrates just how valuable the early involvement of the galvanizer in the design stage can be. Not only was Geelong Galvanizing able to help reduce costs and rework through their early involvement, they also ensured the project stayed on-schedule.