Mar 26 2020, by Fleetwood Urban
Looping the Loop at Narrabeen Lagoon
I’ve always loved visiting Narrabeen Lagoon on Sydney’s northern beaches. Yet for all its natural beauty, it was never the easiest of places to enjoy, largely due to its disjointed network of trails and paths. These access problems were brought to a head almost ten years ago now, when Warringah Council commissioned the hugely-anticipated Narrabeen Lagoon Trail.
We were lucky enough to work on it, and it’s a project that still brings back many fond memories. Every day it’s used by hundreds of canoeists, windsurfers, paddle boarders, dog walkers, swimmers, fishers, day-trippers and residents. It’s hard to imagine the local community without it!
In the loop.
Following a competitive tender back in 2010, Fleetwood was one of the first project partners engaged to help turn the Trail into a reality. In the years that followed, we went on to deliver many of the critical structural elements through separate collaborations with ASPECT Studios (Stage 1, completed 2011) and Thompson Berrill Landscape Design (Stage 2, completed 2015). Several years on, the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail remains one of the largest Access projects we’ve ever undertaken.
Simple idea. Complex delivery.
While the overall vision was simple enough – allow for the complete circumnavigation of Narrabeen Lagoon – delivering the required structures, literally on the water’s edge, presented its fair share of challenges. This was especially the case during Stage 2 which included several of the Trail’s critical missing links:
– 34-metre bridge over South Creek
– 52-metre bridge over Middle Creek
– 750m of concrete paths
– 750m of elevated boardwalks (wheelchair accessible)
Planning and communication was key, so we joined forces with Thompson Berrill Landscape Design to form a multi-skilled team of designers, engineers and installation experts. From there we used our inhouse delivery process, Design Execute2™, to guide us towards the most aesthetic and cost-effective results possible, through a combination of bespoke and off-the-shelf solutions.
“We had strong design intentions within a framework we wanted to achieve, including the form, colour, shape, and the way it (the Trail) was constructed. Fleetwood took that concept and successfully translated it into the built form. They’ve done an excellent job.”
Glen Berrill, Director, Thompson Berrill Landscape Design
There were plenty of obstacles along the way. One of the biggest was ‘how do we construct two large bridges in such a sensitive ecological area?’ We quickly determined the best option was for the structures to be lifted into place, fully assembled. Of course, that led to another challenge. Where could we do the assembling? Working closely with Council, we gained approval to use adjacent land at the nearby golf course and Sports Academy. This allowed us to keep disturbances to the lagoon, creeks and wildlife – including the endangered Australasian Bittern bird population that nests in the area – to an absolute
When the time came to install the bridges, the team made another critical decision to use land-based cranes, rather than pontoons. This meant the riparian zone was further protected from any risk of oil spills while the local creeks were able to remain open. No sediment controls were required either, which also reduced the risk of flooding.
A great outcome.
Today, thanks to the completed Narrabeen Lagoon Trail, Northern Beaches locals and visitors can easily circumnavigate the entirety of lagoon and enjoy its diverse ecology. The Trail structures have also provided safer access from the nearby Wakehurst Parkway, a new watercraft launch bay, dedicated car and trailer parking spaces, barbecues, signage, shelters, picnic facilities and improved disabled access.
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