Craigieburn Bypass: Melbourne's Northern Gateway, 2006
Design Team: Artist Robert Owen, Landscape Architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean with Architects Tonkin Zuilakha Greer
Photography: John Gollings
Adrian Parr, Craigieburn Bypass: a semiotic entry into Melbourne, 2005

The Federal Government as part of its commitment to delivering a new freeway connection to Northern Melbourne, undertook a competition for the design of a gateway element and noise attenuation features.  Robert Owen in collaboration with Taylor Cullity Lethlean, Tonkin Zuilakha Greer won this competition in 2003. The winning design, comprised of walls, bridges and landscape was informed by a poetic reading of the site and a freeway environment largely experienced at speed.  In particular the design explores how otherwise static objects begin to exhibit dynamism or are activated by the travelling motorist.

Two wall types, (a rural and urban experience) were developed each distinctive and responding to their adjacent condition. The ‘Curtain Wall’ (a snake peeling it’s skin) a long sinuous steel ribbon is fluid in its form, dynamic and experiential.  Used robustly, it transforms along its length from a lightweight screen to sculpted landform and ultimately a pedestrian bridge that frames the view to the City of Melbourne.

The ‘Scrim Wall’ (vertical venetian blinds and lace curtains) by contrast is located alongside a residential interface and is composed of patterned acrylic panels and repeated louvers.  The material provides a translucency whilst the louvers create a sequence of microclimates to the linear park behind the wall.  Each louver is rotated slightly to create a constantly changing driving experience. At night the Scrim wall is illuminated transforming the intensity of traffic via electrical impulses to become an ephemeral lighting system.

Craigieburn Bypass: Melbourne's Northern Gateway, was awarded AILA Excellence in Landscape Architecture and Excellence in Design 2005, and the RAIA Joseph Reed Award for Urban Design 2006.