Deer Park By-Pass

Client: VicRoads
Status: Complete 2009

The 9.3km Deer Park Bypass is a new four lane freeway which connects the Western Highway at Caroline Springs to the Western Ring Road at Sunshine West. The Western Highway is the principal road link from Melbourne to Ballarat and onto Adelaide carrying over 70,000 vehicles a day at Deer Park. The Bypass will avoid 20 intersections with many traffic signals and reduce peak journey times by up to 15 minutes. The project was delivered as a design construct contract with VicRoads and Leighton Contractors establishing a ‘one team’ collaborative working relationship.

The Bypass is located on the sparse flat volcanic plains of western Melbourne. The area is characterised by basalt rock outcrops, open grasslands, remnant dry stone walls and planted wind breaks of cypress and sugar gum. The Bypass corridor sits within a semi-rural landscape with a mixture of grazing farm land, industrial estates and the constantly developing residential estates. The motorist is afforded striking views back to the city across a rapidly changing foreground of industrial and residential development.

A fundamental aim of the design has been to create a distinct visual identity for the Bypass that integrates built form and colour into the local landscape – a marking of the land. The road corridor unfolds as a gently undulating serpentine form a relatively short connection between two established highways – a five minute interlude in a longer travelling experience.

Noise walls have been designed as sculptural elements of ambiguous scale embedded into the landform. The walls are constructed of a single material, a deep ribbed profiled steel section in contrasting horizontal ribbons or upright standing ribs. The ribbed profile produces strong shadowed reptilian forms which sit with ease in the big local landscape. The effect is inspired by the extraordinary landscape paintings of Emily Kame Kngwarreye (1994 untitled black ink on paper).

Concrete retaining walls and bridge abutments have been designed as vertical folded planes of strong colour to mark the manmade landscape. The effect is striking as flashes of orange colour highlight the various bridge and wall locations as part of the unfolding journey. By way of contrast strong colour has been used on the steel noise walls when they are connected to the bridges. Elsewhere the noise walls are simply galvanised to accentuate their serpentine shadowy forms as they stretch along side the road edge.

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“Thoughtfully composed, and punctuated by the bright orange flyovers abutments, the result is a durable and muscular gesture with a scale and texture that successfully mixes the factory wall and high art.”

AIA Urban Design Jury, 2010

“In contrast to its function as a noise wall the Deer park Bypass’ appeal is in its confident silence, like a serpent sunning itself in the sun.”

AIA Colorbond Award Jury, 2010