In 1999, Sam Crawford Architects started their architectural practice based in Sydney, Australia. Over the last 20 years, Sam Crawford Architects has established their reputation for design excellence in a variety of projects, such as residential, cultural and public projects.
Sam Crawford Architects has been nationally and internationally recognised in numerous state and national awards from the Australian Institute of Architects, Australian Timber Design Awards, and Local Government Heritage, Conservation and Urban Design.
Their innovative approach to each site’s conditions, and projects’ and clients’ requirements are evident in how they are highly strategic on all of their projects. They integrate research into the design process to find solutions that do many things at once; as much as possible with as little as possible.
Sam Crawford Architects’ design of Eel migration spawns shimmering sinuous bridge has been inspired by the shape of ‘bara’ eels. The design of the bridge’s form and materiality celebrate Indigenous culture and is an environmentally sensitive addition to the vast.
Called Bara Bridge, the dynamic expression of the bridge shows an important aspect of the local Dharawal people’s traditions. The Parklands’ ponds and waterways are home to the ‘bara’ or long-finned eel (Anguilla Reinhardtii).
Sam Crawford Architects sinuously curved the shape of the bridge. “The shape of the bridge recalls the movement of the eels which swim slowly by means of lateral movements of the body. As they move, they shimmer,” said the studio.
The railings are made of different coloured anodised aluminium to echo the skeletal structure of the eel. The colours are selected for camouflage and movement.
The bridge is about 40 meters long and sits lightly above a pond system. It sits harmoniously within the natural environment and also makes an iconic entrance.
“Other gateways to the park all reflect European sensibilities but our design commemorates centuries of Indigenous culture. And it also references the materiality and colours of the park’s existing infrastructure,” the studio added.
Three piles were driven into the pond bed to minimise disturbance to the pond ecosystem.
“A four-prong cruciform steel structure from each pile supports the bridge and provides both lateral and longitudinal stability,” the studio continued.
Materials have been carefully chosen for their low maintenance, durability, and 100 per cent recyclability.
Ground floor plan
Project name: Bara Bridge
Location: Dharawal Country / Centennial Parklands, Sydney, Australia
Client: Centennial Park & Moore Park Trust
Size: 40 m long
Awards: 2022 Australian Institute of Architecture NSW Award for Small Project Architecture – Shortlisted
Projects team: Sam Crawford, Ben Chan, Imogene Tudor, Ken Warr
Consultants: Interpretation Strategy: Lymesmith with Christie Fearns
Graphic Design Accessibility: Morris Goding Access
Consulting Geotech: JK Geotechnics
Structural Engineer: Simpson Design Associates
Quantity Surveyor: Altus Page Kirkland Builder Christie Civil
Acknowledgements: All the information contained in this article was gathered by Jane Silversmith.
All images © Brett Boardman.
All drawings © Sam Crawford Architects.
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