“Unity through diversity” – the slogan adorning the front gate of CERES in East Brunswick sums up the aspirations of this Community and Environmental Education Park and also represents the inclusive nature of the broader communities in the surrounding suburbs of Brunswick and Northcote.
With The Merri Creek Unity Bridge we propose a new gateway on the other side of CERES across Merri Creek. A bridge is required to safely link Northcote to Brunswick for bikes and pedestrians, but more than just being a physical structure serving a functional need, our proposal also represents of the ideals embodied by CERES and the adjacent communities.
Not just another concrete and steel footbridge – we’re proposing a more site-appropriate tactile structure made entirely of low embodied energy materials that can be sustainably harvested and easily erected by hand – timber and rope.
Many straight lengths of timber are interlocked and triangulated to become a rigid and self-supporting structure. An interwoven web of ropes rovides the fall protection. The radial arrangement of the straight members gives the impression of an organic curve and when passed by or through, at speed, say on a bike or running, creates a sense of unravelling movement.
This woven form is used for its structurally integral and dynamic feel, but also metaphorically, representing the ideal of unity through diversity – weaving various elements together to create a unified, strong and beautiful whole that is dependent on all of its parts to work.
Its also intended as a more visually natural approach to bridging the creek, creating a structure with natural materials combined to appear almost be a naturally occurring.
The Merri Creek Footbridge Group have highlighted the need for a bridge to provide a safe method of crossing the river particularly for the many schoolkids who live in Northcote and are zoned to East Brunswick primary school across the creek.
With the recent re-zoning of industrial land on Beavers Rd Northcote to Residential Growth Zones, more kids are coming.
At Ben Callery Architects we are concerned about promoting healthy and sustainable living and transport, and of course safety for kids. We support the Merri Creek Footbridge Group’s proposal but we also see this as an opportunity to provide a more poetic urban sculpture that represents the community and is harmonious with the banks of the creek.