Envision a building that possesses THE HEART

Photographer: Michael McAtomney

The Melbourne Connect precinct has been making significant progress during our time in self-isolation. At the heart of this precinct, cutting-edge digital artwork is set to take centre stage.


The Heart is a stunning work of art consisting of brass droppers, reconstituted brick fragments, and LEDs that form the shape of a massive human heart. It draws inspiration from the Royal Women’s Hospital’s heritage and the donated hearts in the University’s collection used for medical research. This unique artwork is connected to the building’s sensors, which monitor various factors such as humidity, temperature, light, and movement. The Heart’s ebbs and flows correspond to the building’s data, creating a seamless integration of art and technology. Dr. Robert Walton, who led the project, asked, “Can a building have a heart?” He worked with a team of architects, builders, data scientists, and lighting designers to bring his vision to life. The Heart is a visual representation of a living superorganism that evolves with its surroundings, as if it were a child becoming accustomed to its senses and body. The Heart is a permanent installation that combines art, architecture, and technology, and its AI algorithms will mature over time.


Screen grab in: ‘The Heart at Melbourne Connect’ video.

Heart Array Parts:

The Heart Array is a unique lighting system that includes numerous custom LED fittings arranged within the shape of a “ghost-heart”. It is made up of 1.5 km of brass rods, 142 droppers, and 1450 printed circuit boards (PCBs). Additionally, it features 10,000 white LEDs and 284 cores that form the outline of a human heart, constructed with bricks from the Royal Woman’s Hospital. The Heart Array functions as a “volumetric screen” capable of displaying 3D forms in motion. Each PCB has been laser inscribed with song lines that served as inspiration for the project.

Heart Sensor

As part of the installation, there’s a brass heart rate monitor that visitors can touch to connect with The Heart. The sensor emits a red light that matches the neon colour and illuminates the finger that touches it. Once a heart rate is detected, it merges with the building’s pulse in The Heart’s animation.

Lighting Control, Computers, Networks, Sensors, and Cloud Computing

The artwork utilises 4800 sensors located throughout the building to gather data. This information is then processed by cloud computing resources and sent to a local computer that controls the lighting. The Heart is designed to respond to the movements, locations, and breathing patterns of the building’s occupants, making it seem as though they are part of the artwork.

Screen grab in: ‘The Heart at Melbourne Connect’ video.

Partnership with Showtools International

The Heart Array, a fusion of art and technology, was successfully materialised with the help of a team that featured Showtools International’s Casey Loraine and LED Strip Solutions’ (LSS) technical skills. It’s a testament to the creative possibilities of building a structure with functionality and visual representation of human life.

The Heart Array is a beautiful installation created with careful attention to detail. Its shape resembles a heart and is made up of LED modules that emit vibrant warmth and dynamic lighting effects. This stunning display is capable of evoking different emotions, from awe to introspection. It can be adapted to different Environments and is Controlled via AI to suit various events and Conditions within the space, making it a versatile installation.

LED Strip Solutions (LSS) and Showtools International, a leading provider of cutting-edge LED technology solutions, played a pivotal role in the fabrication of the Heart Array. With their expertise in Bespoke LED design and installation, LSS ensured the highest quality standards and impeccable execution of the project. The Heart Array stands as a testament to the power of collaboration, showcasing how the fusion of creative leadership and technological expertise can revolutionize the world of art and entertainment. Showtools International is excited to unveil the Heart Array to the public and invites audiences around the world to experience this breathtaking installation firsthand.


  • 1,450 Bespoke Printed Circuit Boards (Axalight)
  • 10,000 Nichia 3000K Warm White Chips
  • 1,500 Metres of Brass Rod
  • 12,500 Solder Joins
  • 142 Individual Droppers

Manufacturing Process:

  • 2300 Hours of Assembly over 7 Weeks of manufacturing Equivalent to 302 Days of labour
  • 12,500 Individual Solder Joints

Sketch of ‘Ghost Heart’ concept, Robert Walton


The Creative Team Behind The Heart
Concept, Lead Artist — Robert Walton
Design – Heart Array and Heart Node Hardware — Paul Lim and Bosco Shaw, ADDITIVE
Heart Array Fabrication — Casey Loraine, Showtools International
Heart Node and Sensor Housing Fabrication — Callan Morgan, Pelican Studios
Builders — Adrian Brown, Jointly

Website Links:

Melbourne Connect: https://melbconnect.com.au/the-heart

Robert Walton: https://robertwalton.net/project/the-heart/