A sky sign upgrade worth noticing 10

BHP Billiton
Giving a hallmark Australian brand the prominence in the Perth skyline it deserved was harder than you might think. But worth every agonising little detail.

Innovation from necessity

One of Australia’s greatest success stories is BHP Billiton. The mining giant has grown up and spread across a number of major cities all over Australia and the world. Mining everything from iron and coal, to minerals and diamonds.


BHP Billiton’s epicentre of operations is in Perth, and it was here that they needed to solve a very specific signage problem.

How do you build a sky sign that is positioned in the wind, low on maintenance and impressive in size?  Doing so with regulated illumination, no flaring and in a way that’s highly visible.

How do you build a sky sign that is scaled to optimise its viewing distance and yet tackle the considerable wind-load associated with such size?

The Tiara

The sky sign, perched high on a ‘tiara’, above the 47th floor, was crippled with a lack of contrast that made the sign difficult to read and a wind-load that would make any sign difficult to construct.


The ‘tiara’ was 15m high which made accessibility a difficult feat. The original sky sign’s exposed cold cathode lighting, kept breaking in the high winds above the 47th floor.  The solution needed to be an innovative one.


The solution needed to employ new technology and be safer while doing so. LED technology presented a fantastic opportunity; not only would it be safer, but it would run at a lower voltage, making it more economical.

Australia's biggest brand...29m long, 3.8m high

The solution

The solution needed to balance the visual impact of the sign pragmatically against a sturdy construction to deal with the high winds and installation. The sign couldn’t flare or show any irregularities and needed to be legible in every light.

With the old system, when a cold cathode tube failed, all tubes on that transformer circuit wouldn’t work.

On the contrary, using LEDs means up to 10% of the lights can fail and the light still appears to be even. The light only completely fails when a transformer fails.

Using visualisation techniques to adapt to long distance legibility allowed us to ensure the best possible solutions for BHP. Our experience across sky sign design, procurement and project management allowed us to deliver BHP Billiton with a 29m long, 3.8m high sky sign.


The fully regulated illumination makes it brightest at dusk and dawn and each letter is capable of being controlled entirely independently should any letter fail.

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