- City of Melbourne
- State Government of Victoria
- Cox Architecture
The Linking Docklands project provides critical connections and improves the urban design quality and physical environment of Melbourne. It includes the Jim Stynes Bridge, carrying cyclists and pedestrians safely between the central city, Southbank and Docklands, extending the Capital City Trail from the eastern suburbs to the west.
The project is a design outcome of the Docklands Public Realm and the North Wharf Precinct Plans, developed by the City of Melbourne in conjunction with the State Government.
This project was jointly funded by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (previously DPCD), the City of Melbourne and Places Victoria
The project provides an excellent design solution, approaching ‘design’ both in the sense of ‘how it looks’ and ‘how it works’. It is also a particularly good example of how architects, engineers, landscape architects, project managers and contractors can collaborate to adapt a design as unexpected changes are made and exciting new opportunities are revealed. The final design solution is truly comprehensive. Through this approach, the studied, aesthetic appeal of the Jim Stynes bridge structure is complemented by the often opportunistic detailed design of the associated pedestrian and waterside spaces and by a comprehensive emphasis on public safety by design.
The project represents a design-led transformation of a potentially problematic location, delivering results that are consistent with the City of Melbourne’s social, environmental, and economic responsibilities as well as with its long-standing commitment to ‘good design’ in the public realm. The project demonstrates how effective inter-disciplinary and inter-agency collaboration can direct the urban design process to successful outcomes. In this case architects, engineers, landscape architects, project managers and contractors have solved the complex city-building problems associated with intersecting pedestrian, cycle and road linkages that cross both old and new public spaces. The project provides a model for comparable urban projects.
The Jim Stynes Bridge and associated open spaces are an important contribution to the social, economic and environmental aspects of the highly regarded ‘liveability’ of the City of Melbourne. Commuters, businesses, residents and tourists all benefit from a better connected, more ‘green’ and safer city. The project has acknowledged this by extending safe cyclist and pedestrian links along the Yarra corridor to Docklands as well as providing physical and visual links between the key city open spaces of Docklands Park and the Yarra River. Important road connections are unaffected and the whole area has undergone an impressive rejuvenation
Innovation in design is manifested by an approach to the Jim Stynes bridge that seeks lightness and desires a solution that understands the fundamental physical constraints imposed by its context and opportunities presented by its function. Its necessarily curvilinear route avoiding existing obstacles is reflected by a curved truss structure that acts in tension as a horizontal suspension bridge. The bridge deck is cantilevered from this structure. Over its 125 metres length the bridge only touches the river twice – minimising impact upstream in extreme flood events. Spaces for rest are incorporated – the design one of rest and motion.
The project provides appreciable environmental gains. The removal of remnant riverside wharf structures allows parkland to be extended to the water’s edge: this is the only place that this occurs in Docklands, with major benefits to the existing and potential ecology of the site. Swans nest here, colonies of crabs live in the rocks and the site is used by a host of water birds, and even a seal.
With most of the city\’s water edge concealed under wharf structure, this new landscape offers a glimpse of how public waterfronts could provide new opportunities for a vibrant, thriving ecosystem.