WSP in New Zealand worked closely with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Marlborough District Council through the planning stages and developed a Conservation Management Plan early in the design phase to understand the history of the bridge and the best way to manage its long-term maintenance.
Accounting for natural capital
The Harakeke (Flax) motif was historically significant to the area and reflects the wetlands that were once abundant throughout the lower Wairau plains. Motifs representing local flora are sandblasted into the concrete safety barriers of the new bridge and complemented by actual plantings on the approaches to the bridge.
The interpretative panels are printed on aluminium sheets protected by special sealants and anti-graffiti coating and mounted on concrete walls in the courtyard. A pile from a previous timber bridge, recovered during excavations for the new bridge, is positioned beside the panels with an identification plaque.
Sophisticated lighting solutions
Due to the structure’s historic nature WSP used traditional simple lighting using contemporary LED lighting, including the occasional use of coloured lights used to celebrate prominent dates throughout the year.
In the landscaped area at the northern end of the bridge, in-ground luminaires with narrow beam optics highlight the 7m pou whenua. These are located at three points around the base to bring out its texture from all directions.
WSP in New Zealand’s priority was incorporating the new bridge into the existing surrounding landscape so the two bridges would read as a compatible pair, as well as retain their own identities.
The approaches to the old and new bridges have incorporated complementary cultural aspects into their design, which together tell a story and represent the whole community. Schools have been involved throughout the process, with visits to witness the progress of the pou whenua, hear the stories incorporated in the pou whenua, and learn more about te ao Māori.
A pou whenua to stand at the northern end of the bridge was commissioned by mana whenua iwi and carved by a locally based artist. Master carver Reg Thompsett spent many months carving the pou, which represents the history and future of mana whenua in the area. The striking pou whenua Kei Puta te Wairau now stands at the entrance to Blenheim in a specially constructed paved courtyard. Alongside is a series of interpretation panels, designed by a local artist in consultation with mana whenua iwi. One interpretation panel summarises Māori settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Marlborough area, exploring mana whenua connections. The second panel tells of the history of the heritage bridge from its construction 100 years before through to the present day.
Every step of the project - design, planning, construction and end-use – was developed with the intention that this structure will remain into the future for everyone to experience, enjoy and reflect on. We didn’t just build a bridge. We created a space designed for, and by, the community of Te Waiharakeke Blenheim.
LIST OF PRIMARY SERVICES
- Business case development
- Heritage conservation
- Option development
- Detailed design
- Tender management
- Construction contract management