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A Solid Collaboration with German Artistry

Interdisciplinary design artist Bjoern Rainer-Adamson thrives upon collaboration. From the generous nature of this interview, where his artistic process is examined in great depth, IBEX Australia radiates excitement for shared experiences, learning and creating together, and as the artist has named the artwork, “Imagination”.

Using our Express® press fit piping system, Rainer-Adamson produced the artwork for Schools of Early Learning (SOEL) – an organisation seeking to recontextualise education influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach. Speaking from Fremantle, Western Australia, the German-born artist discusses the birth and evolution of this innovative sculpture.

Words from the artist

My concept is to create an artwork that reflects the essence of The School of Early Learning (SOEL), to support children in their intellectual and creative development. I have based the design on one Neuron of the human brain’s cerebral cortex and included the children as the ‘Nucleus’ of the sculpture. They are at the centre, where ideas are formed, impressions are processed, and a new world is discovered. Through my work, the children can share their observations and ideas by symbolically sending them through a marble run. This run consists of the children sending ‘impulses’ (balls) through a series of imagined nerve `axon’ and Synaptic connections (piping). They can symbolically create new pathways by changing the leavers of piping. This marble run represents a process in which children grow and discover how the brain develops. Furthermore, it promotes understanding of the exciting potential created in the brain through expanding new ways of learning (it will be very challenging for the children to predict which outlet the ball will exit).

Design description

Due to health and safety concerns, I have reconsidered the initial scope, including a fountain aspect from my first EOI. Instead, the centre shape will be a sphere constructed of 40mm steel piping with a round entrance, 600mm in diameter, positioned at the corner of the fence. Opposite the entrance, a round ‘observation window’ will face into the front garden and play area of the SOEL. A ladder constructed of the 20mm piping will make the work a 1600mm high structure accessible to the children. The nest-like interior of the structure invites a nurturing space where up to three children could safely observe and interact with the sculpture, with the option of a removable padded mat. The ‘Synaptic connection’ between the cells will be represented in a marble run built out of stainless-steel press fit piping, beginning with two easy access inlets on either side at the midpoint of the sphere and exiting at the base outlets onto surrounding grounding. The downward pipes will have six moveable elements or handle levers (child-safe, no jamming hazards), which the children can turn to create various ‘nerve pathways’ for the impulses (balls) to travel through, finally exiting from one of the seven outlets.

Educational concept

Referencing philosophies and the ethos directly related to SOEL, the aim of Imagination is to encourage a space of investigation for the children, allowing them to develop motor skills, team building, discovery, anticipation, negotiation and patience. The sculpture also has elements that engage the children in the decision-making process, building trust and independence. By climbing into Imagination, children experience confidence and resilience in their bodies, joy, furthermore the confrontation of being at a higher aspect to see the world. Imagination aims to teach children three-dimensional thinking by working out the various possibilities the ball could take in the marble run. Secondly, encouraging the children to learn about the connection between cause and effect. The artwork will be experienced as a whole teambuilding exercise and allow the children to develop their social skills as they negotiate who’s responsible for which part of the process and develop their games. One game example could allow children to create drawings of what they observe through the window and send them down the neural pathways to the diverse nucleus (children).


The artwork concept has been developed in line with the requirements for child-safe play equipment in line with the Australian Standards. In summary, the provided balls are 45mm. The sphere sits at the head height of a standing adult, and the entrance to the work is large enough for adults to access if necessary. The height is limited to 1600mm following child-safe play equipment falling standards. The smaller circumference observation window is limited to 230mm to mitigate the risk of entrapment. The press fit piping for the marble run is 76mm in diameter, a thickness not allowing for children to hold onto, which also discourages climbing. The structure will be built using only round materials, and the general aesthetic is organic and with no sharp edges ensuring a low risk for injury.


The main structure and ladder will be powder coated with Alphatec von Dulux, which has a 10-year lifespan. Marble run will be built entirely out of Express® press fit stainless steel preserved from corrosion. The whole structure can be cleaned if necessary with a pressure cleaner. The entries of the marble run will be so narrow that only certain balls can fit into it, preventing any potential blockages with bigger balls or objects. There will also be easy points of access strategically placed along the piping to remove any obstructions that may be encountered.

Transport and Installation

Transport and installation will be undertaken using a small-size Hiab loader which can reverse into the driveway next to the artwork position, with the work lifted over the fence and bolted to the footing. No public traffic interruption will be incurred. Installation of the lightweight press fit piping for the marble run will be completed on-site, allowing ease of transport, packing and installation.

Children’s Workshop

Based on my experience as an artist-in-residence at SOEL West Leederville earlier in 2017, I would like to run a workshop after the artwork has been installed. My concept is to introduce the new sculpture to them and let each child draw, paint and design what they imagine a thought or idea might look like using wooden balls of the appropriate dimensions.

Colour Decision

The selected colour ‘Blaze Blue` reflects the sky and sea, open space, freedom, intuition, imagination, expansiveness, inspiration, sensitivity, depth, truth, loyalty, sincerity, wisdom, confidence, stability, faith, and intelligence.

Details of all materials to be used and the construction method for the work.

Include fixtures, fittings and information about technology if appropriate.

(see diagrams)

Materials: Main Structure (galvanised and powder-coated)

  • Sphere/ sitting rings (Blaze Blue): diameter 33.7 mm wall 4mm Steel piping
  • Ladder (silver): diameter 33.7 mm wall 4mm Steel piping
  • Pole : diameter 139 mm wall 5.4 mm
  • Footplate : 280mm x 280mm 16mm thick
  • Anchor Holes diameter: 10 thick gusset plates, 60m triangular
  • Fixing Chemset RAMSET: 4No M16 chemical anchors at 155mm centres

Marble Run

IBEX Express® Stainless-Steel Press Fit System: 76mm

Consisting of:

6000 mm press fit tube

27 x 90 degree elbow connection

7 x tee connections

5 x 30-degree elbow

5x 45-degree elbow

Shock absorbing ground (if recommended but not included in the current project or budget scope)

Mulch or synthetic

Maquette of the proposed work

Give us a call to learn more about our Express® press fit range.

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