Text description provided by the architects. Sound walls and road furniture’ for a new 32km stretch of freeway linking the Hume Highway with the Melbourne Ring Road were designed in association with Landscape Architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean. Artist and sculptor Robert Owen was also creatively involved in the concept design and modelling of all the elements.
The project was designed to be experienced at a freeway speed of 110km per hour. It includes three series of sculptural sound walls, a pedestrian bridge and a set of design parameters for road bridges, crash barriers and retaining structures.
The main series of walls by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer total over 2 kilometres in length, and are made from facetted austenitic steel sheets modelled in simple concave and convex folds to produce a gently undulating wave of steel floating on a recessed dark concrete base.
A second series of walls by Taylor Cullity Lethlean, are translucent and transparent, preserving light and views from residential areas. These are edge-lit acrylic, sandblasted with a digital pattern and overlaid with coloured precast concrete blades. The third series, by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, build on the existing landform with dramatic earth sculpting. The use of gabions and heavily planted earth berms achieve the required sound control.
A major element of the work was a new pedestrian bridge, which was designed as a gateway to the distant city of Melbourne, visible on the horizon. The bridge, a complex curve in plan and elevation, is a tubular steel truss faced with the same austenitic steel as the main sound walls, which at this point appear to leap over the road in a gesture of welcome or farewell.