Overground? underground? … wombling free?

While the Wombles spent their lives underground and overground, they never really had to negotiate the politics of overpasses. This is something we will have to when considering what really are the options for the Basin Reserve?  Of course doing nothing is always an option – but if something is to be done it will involve grade separation – i.e. overgrounding or undergrounding: flyovers or tunnelling, if the aim to provide unimpeded flow (i.e. efficiency) for State Highway 1.  This again is an assumed desire, as it seems a majority of people don’t see congestion as a plus – though others might argue congestion makes the car less attractive, and this can’t be a bad thing. Of course congestion charging might be another option – not every answer involves remodelling large areas of earth – but lets save that for another day …

.. so if we take grade separation as a given, the options are over or under.

We’ve already have a flying look at the overgrounding.  As the images suggest, overpasses can be elegant beautiful and structurally innovative urban sculptures.  But they can also be pretty mundane, and certainly the images from NZTA so far aren’t tipping the balance in the poetic direction.  They are heavy staunch and ordinary structures, not elegant or light or innovative.

But tunnels too can be dreadful or beautifully designed.  The tough bit is the tunnel opening.  How to integrate something large and industrial into urban fabric which has a finer grain.  Here’s a range of built and unbuilt tunnels to think about …

CLEM7 Tunnel, Brisbane (EDAW AECOM)

Tunnel to SECC (James Parr and Partners)

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, 2007

Entrance Pavilion (Explorations Architecture)

Receding Waters, A 2008 sculpture project, Terrace tunnel

sculpture, Ljbljana Tivoli Park, Slovenia

South Portal Irlahuell Tunnel

Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, Shanghai

House Tunnel installation by artists Dan Havel, Dean Ruck

Queensway Mersey Tunnel construction 1931

Mont Blanc Cote tunnel entrance

Zaha Hadid Theatre for the Guangzhou Municipal Government – not a tunnel in the transport sense of the basin project – but an example of how tunnels might be slithers in a larger landscape.

and to end, a Time Tunnel … what else?




7 responses to “Overground? underground? … wombling free?”

  1. “But tunnels too can be dreadful or beautifully designed.  The tough bit is the tunnel opening.  How to integrate something large and industrial into urban fabric which has a finer grain.”
    Nice images and great post. Good to see that someone is looking at precedents, although I’m not sure that the tunnel front actually needs to be integrated. You go IN to the tunnel and already you’re in a different world. That entry point is the transition, the opening, the cloaca into what lies ahead.
    Celebrate the portal!

  2. Currently the Mt Vic tunnel is the only bad thing preventing many of us using this route more often. It would be great to see some consideration for the many, non-car users of the tunnel. Any thoughts of bike and pedestrian separated space (without fumes and incessant car horns) would be a real way of encouraging many of us eastern suburbians to enjoy the stroll to town.

  3. Go Celia! – nothing like Our mayor standing up to the NZTA!
    C’mmon NZTA think community and urban scape as critical things in a city. Don’t just present a couple of poor options and call it consultation.

  4. Bikerdude Avatar

    Denny you may have missed the cross section of the tunnel that has been published in the media – the walking / cycling part of the new tunnel is proposed to be separated by a wall with windows through to the cars – but what has not yet been shown is how the cycle routes connect up to the existing walkways etc. It’s this integration part of the scheme which will be crucial – or, ultimately, may sink it.

  5. tomek Avatar

    I remember some years ago, in conjunction with one of the arts festivals we celebrate in our city, the Mt. Vic tunnel entrance/exit were decorated to make it look like you’re entering/leaving the strait ferry. It was gimmicky as hell but at the same time kinda made you smile every time you went through the tunnel.


  6. tomek Avatar

    In communist Poland you don’t build road. The road build you.

    do svidanya,
    boris the brick

  7. Boris Avatar

    Aah, the return of my childhood favorite Saturday morning radio program on Free Radio Moscow – Boris the Brick. How well I remember those happy adventures, Boris walking hand in hand down the street with Svetlana the trowel, as they went off to build happy tunnels for the motherland….
    Back to modern day reality though, and I think it’s important to note how safe a tunnel is in a seismic event (they move with the ground), in comparison to an overpass (remember Kobe and San Fran freeway collapses).

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