Large as Life


Situated on a 600 hectare bluff on the Victorian coastline, the Alcoa Portland Aluminium Smelter balances industry and environment, and utilises the psychology of colour to transform the nature of a manufacturing workplace.

Dubbed ‘Smelter in a Park’, Portland Aluminium retained the required buffer zone around its operations as wildlife habitat and parklands for community and staff recreation, blending in to its natural surrounds and ‘diminishing’ in size.

To further emphasise the relationship of the Smelter to its context and community, Nexus Designs were engaged to ‘humanise the workplace with colour’. Everything from huge spaceport-like structures, silos, cranes and gantries, to interior frames and trusses and even on-site vehicles all received new life through carefully researched colours from the local land and seascapes. Aqua, aquamarine, sage green, blue-grey, sea blue, turquoise and eucalypt were offset with splashes of tangerine, deep purple, mid-blue and yellow.

The colours soften the rawness and scale of the industrial architecture, allowing spaces to feel more human in scale and relatable to the natural environment, in turn considering the ongoing welfare of Smelter staff.