Amid rising government approvals for higher-density inner city structures, the migration of people into these areas is increasing significantly. This, along with the greening of our cities, means that public spaces have important roles to play in today’s society. From bridges and bollards, to railways and roads, the infrastructure that underpins our cities and occupies our civil spaces ought to physically adapt to the needs of those moving around them.
The high finish quality and aesthetic appeal of infrastructure and its surrounds are fundamental indicators of the success of urban planning. Quality finishes and visually pleasing structures both contribute to and reflect healthy and prosperous communities. Durability, high quality and low maintenance costs are three key factors that play important roles in the amenity of public areas. A well-integrated team of planners, designers, developers, and precast concrete manufacturers ensure continuous innovation in producing outstanding infrastructure environments that are fit for purpose and aesthetically striking – two attributes that enhance the health and well-being of a community.
Form is just as important as function
While infrastructure is fundamentally needed for the efficient operation of a society, it becomes exciting and attractive when the form is made as important as the function. National Precast members have long been involved in the manufacture of various types of infrastructure and landscaping elements that uphold and magnify both form and function requirements.
As city populations continue to grow, there becomes a greater need for public transport. The Sydney Skytrain is an elevated train line, which features large precast concrete barriers (or parapets), which were manufactured by National Precast member Hanson Precast. The parapets are part of the few visible components of the build, necessitating a strong focus on the appearance and finish. Precast concrete proved to be the only option to time-effectively produce such a large product of high-quality for the Skytrain, and set a benchmark for public transport.
Sydney’s M4 Motorway
Never before has precast been so flexible when it comes to shape, colour and finishes. Glass reinforced concrete (GRC) allows for the production of strong, lightweight, highly detailed and thinner elements that can be as stunning as they are strong.
With GRC, designers have the opportunity to add a personalised sense of artistry, creativity and iconic imagery to precast concrete surfaces. Sydney’s M4 Motorway features some 1400 GRC panels manufactured by National Precast member Asurco Contracting that act as noise barriers on the sides of the viaduct.
Precast concrete structures and spaces: a sustainable solution
While the breadth of precast products and applications is extensive, precast has an important role in structures and outdoor spaces as it excels at meeting form, function and sustainability requirements. Being factory-made, any waste during manufacture is recycled. Waste elements such as fly ash, which would otherwise go to landfill, can be incorporated into the concrete mix. Long life, low maintenance and termite/flood/fire-resistant precast concrete products that don’t emit toxic gases or need chemical treatment also make for reusable, recyclable and sustainable structures.
The quality of views, vistas, infrastructure, and outdoor spaces in the public realm all require a connection between architectural design, landscape quality, public experience and city routines