This 25km transport corridor in suburban Melbourne is far more than a feat of engineering.
North East link was designed by BKK Architects in collaboration with Warren and Mahoney Architects, landscape architects TCL and Indigenous design experts Greenaway Architects for the Spark Consortium.
Construction will begin in 2022 and completion is expected in 2027.
For our team of urban designers, architects and landscape architects, the project has been an urban-renewal opportunity. We have focused on the places surrounding the new road – the social and ecological restoration of the neighbourhoods it traverses.
It includes more than 34 kilometres of shared use paths, revitalised wetlands, water-sensitive urban design and active recreation spaces. There are land bridges with pedestrian trails and parklands alive with native plants that repair the local ecology. There are over 30,000 new trees. Operations buildings and noise walls are clad in photovoltaic cells, so that NEL harvests around two thirds of the energy it uses.
NEL is on Country of the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung people. Fundamental aspects of its design grow from their living knowledge and history. In fact, it’s the world’s first road project to use the award-winning International Indigenous Design Charter principles.
We adopted three Wurundjeri pillars to guide the design intent:
Inherent in them is the principle of touching the earth lightly, which informed many design decisions. It is at the heart of our sustainability approach.
For example, NEL has nine footbridges. The UDALA team and the project engineers have minimised their impact, using smarter engineering to achieve structural integrity without masses of steel. To Care for Country, the Yarra Bridge rests on slim forked columns with tiny footprints in the landscape below. It literally and spiritually elevates people above the road (Connecting People), leaving bikes and pedestrians to move freely over traffic.
NEL Connects People also by providing alternatives to driving. The footbridges, shared paths and land bridges above the motorway make short local journeys safe, direct and pleasant.
Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs have beautiful waterways and areas of bushland. Our scheme aims to protect and strengthen them, in many places restoring or reconnecting nature corridors.
Key features of the scheme include: