The cutting edge

Trifolium exteriorUTS alumnus Robert Beson’s Trifolium is like the Opera House designed to fit in your backyard.

Walking inside the Trifolium pavilion feels like entering a clover-shaped cave that’s been turned inside out to the night sky. Curving egg-shell-coloured Corian covers the outside of the three interconnected rooves, while the inside is black mirror-polished stainless steel panels – the whole structure composed of 3000 unique components.

Designed by Sydney-based AR-MA (Architectural Research – Material Assemblies) and led by AR-MA founding director and UTS alumnus Robert Beson, the pavilion won last year’s Fugitive Structures, an annual competition for emerging architectural practices, sponsored by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF).

As well as design, Beson’s practice played an active role in the three-month fabrication process which involved routing, laser-cutting, welding and thermo-forming every part individually and then installing them at the Sherman Galleries in Paddington.

“We decided to take part because it gave us an opportunity to experiment with ideas we’d been playing around with for a while, to discuss them, test them and put them into practice,” says Beson.

One of the main ideas was challenging the practice that structures need to be modular and repeat elements. “With the leverage of digital technologies, you don’t have to do that anymore,” argues Beson.


Predictably this caused massive headaches and overheads, he admits, but his team overcame them with a generous commission of $100,000 from SCAF, while all the manufacturers donated their materials to the project.

“Robert Beson was chosen because he fitted the ambitious, experimental description far better than anyone else in the line-up,” says SCAF artistic director, Gene Sherman. SCAF displayed Trifolium for a year, and now the pavilion has moved to a sculpture park in western Sydney.

Story: Melinda Ham