Case Study: Powder Coating Expanded Metal Mesh on The Icon Apartments (Australia)

The Icon Apartment Australia

A bold and significant new development has emerged in Melbourne, Australia as a ‘liveable lego tower’, rising in tiered rainbow cubes that appear to balance like building blocks. Aptly named The Icon, the distinctive new building is wrapped in expanded aluminium mesh that changes color as sunlight moves.

The inspiration of Australian artist Matthew Johnson, who worked with Jackson Clements Burrows Architects to conceptualize the distinctive complex, was achieved with Interpon Powder Coating (Australia) on board as a collaborative partner.

“My vision for the project was for people look up and see something interesting, to see something that is in a sense iconographic – as a marker or reference point,” explains Matthew.


We were involved with the project “right from the start”, explains Gareth Connell, Specification Consultant, Interpon. Their association began after they were introduced to Pace Developments to discuss color and product selection for the external façade.

“We work closely with Interpon, and Pace Developments asked us to quote with the product already powder coated,” says Ian Dunstan, Sales Manager at Locker Group, who manufacture perforated and expanded metal.

Interpon were able to step in and develop the color range separately, to meet the design brief and provide an ultra-durable coating system that meet the expectations of all parties.


“The team at Interpon were very accommodating, engaged and professional in taking the concept on board,” says Matthew. “We were able to manifest unique colors based on the ratios I created with their chemist, inventing a whole new series of colors. This was crucial, as each level is depicted in different color hue variations from earth to sky, which cross reference the nature of the geographical and environmental strata. This flux of seasonal change is portrayed through subtle tonal gradation. Working with Interpon was a very fluid operation.”

Interpon has collaborated on several high profile property developments and high rises over the years – although perhaps none quite as unique or with as many distinct characteristics as The Icon.

“The nature of expanded aluminium mesh is such that it is formed by shearing and expanding aluminium sheet to create the ‘3D form’ effect. A visually appealing system for a façade, the shearing of the metal can present issues with very sharp edges, particularly in aggressive coastal environments,” Gareth explains.


“Part of understanding this project was to comprehend as many elements as possible. Given the location was in St Kilda (Melbourne, Australia), with the bay just over 1.5km away, environmental considerations such as UV degradation, exposure to corrosive sea salts and prevailing winds needed to be considered.”

After reviewing available data, such as Australian Bureau of Meteorology weather patterns and local geography and topography maps, a specific duplex or two-layer powder finishing system was specified.

“This consisted of a controlled preparation process for the expanded aluminium sheets. An epoxy barrier primer (was specified) to provide enhanced protection and to build the sharp edges in order to minimize issues associated with filiform corrosion.  And the ultra-durability polyester powder top coat was developed in 34 distinct colors,” Gareth says.

After the color range was developed, it was applied by powder coating specialists Mansutti Bros. Led by Managing Director Claude Mansutti, the team refinished hundreds of mesh panels over a period of nine months.

“It was a major benefit to be using powder coating because, unlike liquid paints, powder is cured once it comes out of the oven and it’s ready to go once it’s cooled down. If they were painted, the drying phase could delay the process from refinish to installation by up to two weeks. It meant we were able to keep to a very strict schedule,” Claude says.

“The project involved a lot of large spreadsheet work. There were 17 floors and over 30 colors, with panels in 15 sizes; it was quite a matrix to work with. But the end result is so different and so unique. It’s an interesting design and I’m sure it’s going to be a talking point for the area for many years.”

Products used

  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva St John Charcoal Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Smoke Bush Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Watermelon Milk Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Camel Cord Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Reed Green Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva 1023 Yellow Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Swanston Yellow Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva 1006 Yellow Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Dairy Made Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Spring Sprout Pearl
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Shamrock Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Gulliver Green Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Cowardly Custard Pearl
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Delltone Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Salt Spray Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva A1 Wineberry Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva A3 Dark Bronze Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva A4 Boysenberry Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Eternal Bronze Pearl
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Meadow Green Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Pommel Blue Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Forest Blue Pearl B1 Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Enzian Blue Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Blue League Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Green Spool Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Malay Brown Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Burnished Russet Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva FM Bronze Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva Solar Flare Pearl Matt
  • Interpon D2015 Ultriva 8029 Pearl Matt