State of Design Festival, Victoria, Premier Design Awards: Premiers Design Mark
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
It is hard to imagine a road which brings something more into a person life than merely a means to an end of getting to their destination. In 2008 the EastLink road development was completed which has been regarded as bringing a new benchmark to the development of road infrastructure in Australia.
The EastLink development was designed by architects Woods Marsh; it is a $2.5 billion road project which connects the eastern and south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne to the city’s Monash and Peninsula Freeways has been awarded the Premiers Design Mark at the 2010 Premier Design Awards in Victoria’s State of Design Festival.
The project had previously achieved the Excellence Award for Infrastructure Projects over $20 million at the Engineers Australia Victorian Excellence Awards.
In 2009 it was regarded as Australia’s largest road infrastructure project to have been developed. The design of this six lane road includes two tunnels, 17 interchanges and 90 bridges over 45km of freeway, 39km is a tollway; this includes a three lane tunnel, three rail crossings , 35km of walkways and cycle tracks , 70 integrated wetlands areas and finally four million trees and plants have been introduced.
The tunnels have been specifically designed to fit into the surrounding area of the Mullum Mullum Valley and ventilation towers, pedestrian overpasses, noise walls, expansive landscaping and rock features have all been included into the finished project.
The road a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project is owned and operated by ConnectEast Group had stood out in the infrastructure industry for its unique urban design and sustainable features.
The projects urban design has incorporated strong colours inspired from regional plants into the features of the road such as the pedestrian overpasses, bridge balustrades and the head office which sits at Ringwood.
A creative influx is provided through the implementation of 13,600 noise wall panels. The aesthetics of these walls combine charcoal or off-white pigmented concrete with a textured rock pattern; varying sections of the walls are combined with transparent acrylic panels. Included in the design is a $5.5 million public art project.
The landscaping of this project, with more than $50 million invested into its design also justifies the accolades it received. Within the 39 kilometres there are walking trails and habitat paths; restored creeks, revegetation of open spaces and waterways and there has been a construction of 70 wetlands.
The wetlands act as a boost to the surrounding area as any runoff water from the motorway is treated and put straight back into this natural system. This greatly contributes to the biodiversity of this area as it creates and supports a more sustainable habitat for the local species and wildlife.
Approximately four million trees and plants native to Australia have been incorporated into the landscape design, and there was a concerted measure to ensure that any if any of the fauna was disturbed by the construction of the project, it would be rescued and replanted into other suitable environments.
The Premier Design Awards recognizes projects with a high level of quality design and which take into account the bigger picture of social, environmental and economic benefits it could have within that particular area. Beyond this being the biggest road project within Australia and its underlining contributions from the integrated wetlands, this project has established itself as being beneficial across Victoria.
For the users of the roads, reduced travelling time on the roads has been achieved through minimizing traffic congestion; by aiming to achieve this through the design, this has greater benefits for the local environment as reduced traffic congestion provides a further cut in pollution.
Safety is a particularly strong issue within this project, within the tunnels especially, high performing safety technology has been implemented. Economically, the benefits outweigh themselves; approximately $2.5 billion worth of construction activity across Victoria has born from this project, and a huge 7,500 jobs have been created directly and indirectly.
Finally, now there is a greater connection between Melbourne and its suburbs, tourism in certain areas has lifted; an off shoot from this, has been the $20 million investment by ConnectEast in other public transport and upgrades have taken place to nearby railway stations.