Yagan Square Tower

Since 1903 a billboard display has stood beside Perth’s central railway station. It was originally built to conceal a watertank to support the railway. When steam trains were abolished, it lived on as an advertising tower. (Pictured below circa 1936).

Weathered and losing relevance, the tower was demolished in 2014 as part of the civic centre’s Yagan Square redevelopment. It was upgraded with an upscale, high-tech tower that fuses art and design, reimagining the role of a billboard as a curated digital gallery.

The new tower serves not just as a lucrative advertising space, but a medium to broadcast arts and culture from around Western Australia (whose land mass is equivalent to Europe) into the capital city’s most frequented thoroughfare of commuters and tourists.

24-hour programming showcases stories of people, places, landscapes, agriculture and resources and arts. Major major events are also broadcast.  

The tower itself comprises a series of 35.5-metre vertical columns, and a unique circular screen that utilises 1,000 individual panels to make up its 30-metre diameter. Its overall height is 45-metres tall – tall enough to make a statement, but not so big it dominates the surrounding urban landscape. The screen can respond to movement in the space using interactive weather, pedestrian and train movement sensors.

Going back to its roots, a sub-station to power the entire Yagan Square precinct is also concealed beneath.

Lyons Architecture are behind the design and worked with the Whadjuk Working Party through an iterative consultative process to incorporate local Aboriginal culture into the design, for instance, its steel columns symbolise the bulrushes (reeds) that surrounded the ancient lakes of the area and the 14 Noongar language groups. Interactive lighting turns these into an art installation of the evening.

The Yagan Square precinct has received over 2 million visits since its opening in March 2017.

Images courtesy: MRA.