As cycling becomes more popular, a renewal project for the Woden Bus Interchange in the ACT boasts a functional yet aesthetically pleasing new feature – an architecturally designed precast concrete stairway that looks after cyclists as well as pedestrians.
As well as improving accessibility and safety, the stairway provides commuters with a new connection between the Woden bus depot and town square. But besides its functionality, what sets this stairway apart, is its beauty and clever design cater not only for pedestrians, but cyclists as well. Between two sets of stairs, a bicycle lane has been incorporated down the centre, allowing riders to wheel their bikes alongside them as they ascend or descend.
The beauty of factory-made precast
All of the elements for the stairway, including the stair landings, curved central stair units and surrounding walls, were manufactured by National Precast member Hanson Precast. In total, the project comprised 59 stair elements with a light acid-etched finish and 13 wall panels in a polished finish.
According to Hanson Precast’s Project Engineer Robert Merjane, the high level of finish would have been very difficult to achieve had the stairway and walls been site poured.
“That was one of the main reasons that precast was chosen for this project,” he says.
Complexity at its finest
While first impressions might indicate that the project was straightforward, careful planning and attention to detail was needed to ensure the project’s success.
According to Mr. Merjane, there were challenges with various elements of this project. “The central stair units were curved along each side to accommodate the bike wheel. The moulding required to achieve that detail was quite intricate. We drew some of the elements in 3D to determine the shape and final dimensions and then custom-made the moulds accordingly,” he explains.
“The stairs were architecturally designed to look as though they are suspended. You can actually see the steps have a floating look on the outer edge, and achieving that result required clever planning. The solution was to fabricate moulds to give the steps a tapered edge.”
The other challenge was putting a round element in what was essentially straight and square cut. For the bicycle access, a cylindrical shape was needed in the central stair units where the railing was installed.
“The polished precast walls that define the garden space are articulated with grooves that match the layout of the step treads,” says Mr. Merjane.
ACT Government after long life, durability and minimal maintenance
While the main reason for using precast was the accuracy and quality of finish that could be achieved in a factory-controlled environment, durability was also a deciding factor. The ACT Government recognised that the stairway would have a long life and wanted the benefit of minimal long term maintenance costs. The client also knew that high-quality precast would perform well in Canberra’s sometimes extreme weather conditions.
Impressive result and a happy builder
Hanson’s Canberra Sales Representative Drew Lincoln says the final result is worthwhile.
“This project demonstrates what we can do. We don’t often get an opportunity to show off what we can do with precast and landscaping, particularly at the high end. The builder did a great job installing as well,” he says.
Builder Ivan Potrebica from Acclaim Contractors is also happy with the final result.
“We’re extremely pleased and so is the ACT Government. It’s a bit of a showcase and was a tough ask [for Hanson], with stringent tolerances and complex dimensions and they handled it in their stride. It goes to show what you can do with precast,” says Mr. Potrebica.
Project: Woden Bus Interchange stairway & landscaping
Project value: Approximately $300,000
Location: Woden, ACT
Precaster: Hanson Precast
Builder: Acclaim Contractors
Architect: CCG Architects
Client: ACT Government