Victorian State Government

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North East Link

North East Link

North East Link: social and ecological renewal on Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Country

This 25km transport corridor in suburban Melbourne is far more than a feat of engineering.

BKK collaborated with Warren and Mahoney Architects, landscape architects TCL and Indigenous design experts Greenaway Architects to design it 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:

  • Connection to Country
  • Caring for Country
  • Connecting People

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:

  • First road project in the world founded on the principles of the International Indigenous Design Charter
  • Vent outlet building designed as an architectural landmark (inspired by the shape of Wurundjeri eel traps) and clad in photovoltaic cells
  • World-leading sustainability innovation, including meeting 25% of its power needs with solar energy its infrastructure harvests
  • Over 40 new, upgraded cross-corridor connections
  • 34 kilometres of new and upgraded shared-use paths
  • 9 new footbridges
  • 100+ new public recreation facilities including ball courts, solar-powered BBQ areas, fitness stations and a skate park
  • 18 new art commissions
  • More than 30,000 new trees
  • 2.5 kilometres of creek that’s been daylighted (returned to the surface after being redirected into pipes)
  • 4 hectares of new and upgraded wetlands
  • Water-sensitive urban design and Green Star ratings for all occupied and operations buildings.

For

Victorian State Government

With

Warren and Mahoney, T.C.L, and Greenaway Architects

Sector

Urban Design & Infrastructure

Status

Competition

Year

2019 – 2021

Location

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Country

Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation