The underpass, which was constructed by the McConnell Dowell Downer joint venture as part of the Russley Rd Upgrade, runs under the newly constructed Harewood Roundabout. It was intentionally designed by AECOM and Jasmax to be a visually striking architectural feature with a very functional purpose – to encourage use of the underpass by pedestrians and cyclists, and discourage undesirable activities such as vandalism and loitering.
The design approach is based on the premise that people generally respond positively to environments that are well designed and demonstrate a respect for the comfort, safety and experience of the user.
The judges’ comments reflected the success of the design’s execution. “Underpasses are usually thought of as spaces you don’t want to visit, but not this one. This underpass is truly one of a kind and shows you what a difference design and colour can make to what could be the most mundane of practical spaces. Simply impressive inside and out.”
The glossy white, multi-faceted, concrete panels feature a relief that evokes the Southern Alps.
The Joint Venture had the 3D CAD model laser cut as a positive replica in polystyrene, which was then then cast by local supplier Cancast as a negative mould in concrete. Concrete additives helped to achieve an extremely smooth and accurate finish.
The coloured inter-panel sections that contrasted with the texture and form of the precast panels were cast in-situ using vertical rough sawn timber boards for boxing, to achieve a textured effect.
The four inter-panel sections are painted in the colours of the sky from west to east: West Coast sunset, stormy West Coast sky, the Nor’west arch and the broad blue Canterbury sky.
““With faceted shapes inspired by the mountains and a wonderful play of shadow, light and colour, this underpass is nearly more art installation than underpass,” the judges said.