Peninsula Link celebrates the art of driving. The freeway is a 15-minute ride through multiple character zones and it features the Road Biennale, a public art program.
The road is an extension of the existing EastLink freeway that stretches from Seaford to Mount Martha on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Engineers design freeways for efficiency and safety. Our role as architects was to offer pure urban design advice. We considered the human, plant and animal communities that the freeway passed through. We worked to respect their needs and to create an exciting experience for drivers, locals and visitors alike. We were the project’s conscience.
Roads are part of communities so we considered the thousands of fences behind the road. How could Mornington Peninsula locals—the people and the wildlife—interact with the freeway? How could we reduce the noise of the traffic?
Our noise walls are the first in Victoria to be made from heavy-duty plastic, the sort used for water tanks and wheelie bins. The 40 different high-density polyethylene panels were made locally, in Seaford. The panels are far more environmentally friendly than concrete because they can be installed by hand (rather than by crane), and recycled.
“Using plastic for noise walls is the new business as usual. It was a game changer for other roads.”
—ARM Director Jesse Judd
The walls are patterned on both sides, creating a textured backdrop for the 25-kilometres of walking and cycling paths that flank the freeway. The pathway is the biggest extension to Victoria’s shared use path network since EastLink trail.
The elevated, earth-coloured Woodland Experiences section goes through The Pines, a 108-hectare remnant bushland reserve in Frankston North that is home to rare plants and animals, including the southern brown bandicoot and Eastern Dwarf Galaxias fish. Here, the noise walls have to screen out light too. They are patterned with grey and brown shapes captured from the forest floor to create a filmic, flickering representation of a canopy of trees, folding in and out with oxidized steel panels. Acrylic panels cap the noise walls, letting drivers see the treetops.
A series of wildlife underpasses is beneath the Woodland zone. Some are as narrow as a burrow while the largest one—six metres high and 40 metres wide—is big enough for humans.
Colour and design features help drivers find their place even when they are travelling fast.
Coloured glazed bricks replace conventional rock-beaching beneath the 11 local roads that cross the freeway. A flash of blue brick indicates a key intersection, such as the Peninsula Portal exit from EastLink.
Our designs divide the road into visually discrete places: the zigzag blue panels mark the Peninsula Portal at Carrum Downs; the rock-like panels signify the urban-rural Threshold at Baxter, the green bricks indicate the Moorooduc Plains at the end. The millions of bricks were laid by hand in chevron pattern and they create a joyful glazed tunnel.
The landscaping, including earth formations and the planting of 1.5 million indigenous grasses, shrubs and trees, is a further marker of place.
The work of artist Rosalie Gascoigne inspired the text walls of the Cultural Landscape zone through Frankston and Langwarrin South. The terracotta and grey walls layer local places names over Aboriginal place names that we discovered on a nineteenth-century surveying map of the area.
ARM facilitated this partnership between road developers Southern Way and McClelland Sculpture Park in Frankston. Three new public sculptures were created for the freeway’s Cultural Landscape zone. Louise Paramor’s bright stack of Lego-like shapes, Panorama Station, is permanent. Phil Price’s wind-activated kinetic piece Tree of Life and Dean Colls’s Rex Australis (a giant rusted ram’s skull) are installed for two years and will then be acquired by McClelland.
The Road Biennale will run until 2037. Fourteen new public art works will be created.