Bowen Place Crossing in Canberra replaced a dangerous, at-grade crossing on busy Bowen Drive with a pedestrian and cyclist underpass. Recognising the significant opportunity for place making within the Parliamentary Triangle, the strategy was to create a simple and elegant design which would respect the National heritage significance of the adjacent Parliamentary Vista and National Gallery of Australia (NGA), while at the same time establishing new landscape connections with the heritage values of the locality. The crossing is the final link in the five kilometre Lake Burley Griffin Loop, and features a cycling and walking path, and a small, informal plaza on the lake edge which provides opportunities for rest and socialising.
Through a design-led approach to infrastructure provision, Bowen Place Crossing offers a safe passage for pedestrians and cyclists under Canberra’s Kings Avenue Bridge.
Initial public and stakeholder consultation for the Crossing was conducted by the National Capital Authority (NCA) during 2009 and 2010. During December 2009, a representative group of key stakeholders were briefed on eight options for improving the pedestrian and cyclist crossing. The key stakeholders provided the NCA with a series of options to address the significant safety concerns of the crossing.
Of these options, three conceptual designs underwent public consultation in 2010. Options included: a footbridge over Bowen Place; a ramp and stairs with traffic signals (immediately adjacent to the existing Kings Avenue pedestrian ‘off ramp’); and traffic signals at the existing crossing. Of the respondents, 97 per cent favoured the footbridge option presented. In addition to these three options, the NCA also received feedback from the public that a grade separated underpass solution should be considered. Following further preliminary technical investigation of the site, immediate surrounds and other relevant project parameters, the conclusion was reached that an underpass solution was the most appropriate conceptual approach for the Crossing. This conclusion carefully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of both underpass and overpass.
A principal objective for this project was to ensure the safe and separated movement of cars, pedestrians and cyclists at road and lake level, but the solution sought more than just clever traffic engineering. The completed crossing comprises a light filled and generous pedestrian and cycling underpass allowing for easy and convenient active travel; a small informal plaza on the lake edge and a rain garden. The lengthy consultation process produced the design and provision of a valuable public open space; the minimalism of which generates a sense of place by highlighting the natural surroundings of the crossing, adding human scale and a varied character to Canberra’s formal public spaces.
- National Capital Authority
- LahzNimmo Architects
- Spackman Mossop Michaels – Landscape Architects