Arkadia Apartments Sculptform

Arkadia Apartments

Nestled in the formerly industrial suburb of Sydney’s Alexandria sits Arkadia Apartments, designed in a collaboration between DKO Architecture and Breathe Architecture.

Lining the spectacular curved forms of two entrance tunnels are our Click-on Battens in Spotted Gum, using a modified version of our system to meet the requirements of the unique geometry.


Click-on Battens


Spotted Gum
Arkadia apartments

A unique identity

Preserving the identity of the site while merging in the new elements was key to the vision of DKO and Breathe architects, who designed Arkadia to be environmentally and socially sustainable while serving a link between the suburbs past and future. Major design features such as the recycled brick facade serve as a connection to the history of the site, which was the home of the NSW brickworks in the past.

Building a sense of community was another significant component of the design, achieved through establishing communal spaces in each of the four unique buildings for the residents of the 152 new apartments to interact.

With the primary client for the project being Defence Housing Australia, this sense of a close-knit community became even more valuable, due to defence force personnel being sent to postings for extended periods of time and leaving families behind.

“At its heart Arkadia is about ecological sustainability and social sustainability. The entire building skin is designed to act as both a memory of the site’s history, but as a beacon to a low carbon future. It is comprised of nearly half a million recycled bricks and articulated with deep reveals and solar shading to the north and west. Careful attention has been paid to thermal performance with right sized punched openings and cross ventilation, simultaneously shading and ventilating apartments.”

DKO Architecture

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform
Arkadia apartments Sculptform
Arkadia Apartments Sculptform

Curved timber forms

Arkadia required unique solutions for both curving the battens and then fixing them in place, which we developed and even prototyped in our Bendigo factory using kerfing and ply forms.

Timber was chosen as the ideal material due to its authenticity, providing a natural warmth to the project. To ensure the timber battens could fit the unique curved forms, both the battens themselves and the mounting system needed to follow the same curves. The most effective way to ensure the hardwood of the Spotted Gum battens could curve to the required radius was through kerfing.

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform prototype


Kerfing timber battens involves cutting small slots in the back of the batten to allow it to curve. The clip connections of our system were unaffected by the kerfing, with the clips engaging between slots.

Three timber batten profiles were used to provide a similar look at all stages of the curve, each with the same kerfing patten to maintain consistency. This pattern of the required kerfing was calculated by our installation team to balance the desired aesthetic with the practical requirements of the curve.

“The battens created a seamless continuity without any visible fixing to the arches. This allowed the design intent of extrusions with curve to be more pronounced. The battens allowed for a fast assembly on site resulting in a delivery ahead of deadline.”

DKO Architecture

Arkadia apartments
Click-on Battens direct fix clip

Custom fixing solutions

While our standard Click-on Batten system uses an aluminium mounting track with our patented clips attached to hold the battens in place, a different solution was required for the curves at Arkadia. The timber battens lining the entrance tunnels needed to curve along the length of the tunnel, while also raking to match the beautiful curved form.

Our clip is the key to the Click-on Batten system, as it provides a hidden fixing with an ultra-fast click-on connection. To use the clip for this project, we utilised a variation of our direct fix clip method, which uses standard clips that can be fixed in place on-site.

To provide the interface for the clip, we manufactured ply forms to use in the place of mounting tracks. The ‘saw-tooth’ pattern of these forms matched allowed for direct-fix clips to be installed quickly and effectively on-site, which allowed the fast installation of the battens.

Specification Details
Product Sculptform Click-on Battens
Material Timber
Species Spotted Gum
Profiles 60x19mm, 42x19mm, 32x32mm
Spacing Custom Solution
Coating Custom
Mounting Track Custom Solution
Acoustic Backing No
Arkadia Apartments Sculptform

The Prototype

As this was a project that tested a few new factors with our system, we built a prototype in our factory to work out any issues.

The prototype was constructed as a replica of the most intricate part of the curve, allowing us to deal with the section under the most strain. The prototype was seen and approved in-person by the design team from DKO, who were excited to see their design coming to life.

“Sculptform’s professional team were a pleasure to deal with, their excellent technical knowledge were key to the successful outcome. They aided the design delivery process, maintaining design integrity from sketches through to completion.”

DKO Architecture

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform prototype

Our Installation Process

Fixing the clips in place

The entirety of the two tunnels at Arkadia apartments used over 15 thousand of our direct fix clips, which needed to be fixed to the ply forms before they were installed.

This process was completed on-site before the ply forms were installed in place. To ensure efficiency, each clip was designed to be fixed at a set space from the bottom of the ‘saw-tooth’, allowing installers to fix them in place quickly with a small spacer tool.

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform prototype

Installing the ply forms

The ply forms used in the place of a standard mounting track work as the spine of the system, and are directly fixed to the steel purlin substrate. These forms take the straight angles of the steelwork and convert it into a smooth curve for the battens to follow.

Installing the Battens

With the ply forms and clips in place, the battens were then installed. The simple ‘click-on’ connection between the battens and the clip allowed for fast installation with minimal room for error. The pre-kerfed battens allowed for the curves easily, eliminating on-site complexity.

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform install

Installation Challenges

Maintaining Consistent Curves

When dealing with large scale curves like the tunnels at Arkadia Apartments, consistency is the key to delivering a quality result. To ensure the vertical curves of the walls followed the required shape, we utilised several ply templates which served as reference points. These datum points saved time on installation and ensured accuracy on-site.

Arkadia Apartments Sculptform prototype

The point of intersection

One of the biggest challenges on site was managing the point where the two curves meet at the top of the tunnel. An on-site solution was required, as the substate at the top of the tunnels was higher than expected, while the substrate framing at the top of the tunnel was tighter than expected.

This solution included resetting some of the curve to alter where it meets the flat section of the ceiling, ensuring a consistent finish and uninterrupted aesthetic.

Arkadia apartments

Project Summary


DKO Architecture and Breathe Architecture

Completion Date



ICON Constructions


Alexandria, NSW


Tom Ross and Martin Siegner


Multi Residential


Sculptform and Crew 32

Landscape Architecture

Oculus Studios

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