Reimagining The Shoalhaven Bridge
A public announcement that the old Shoalhaven River Bridge will be replaced by a new crossing has provoked much discussion about the fate of the historic bridge in the local community. Completed in 1881, built from cast iron and steel, the 342m long bridge was originally intended to carry a double railway track. The railway, however, was never extended past Bomaderry Station where trains still terminate today. Designed by an American engineer, the bridge was originally decked with timber but this was replaced by concrete in 1981. Threats that the bridge would be demolished and turned into scrap metal raised the ire of the historical society and Edmiston Jones decided to weigh into the debate. We developed a concept showing the bridge as a pedestrianised hub where markets or festivals could be held, following a suggestion by Shoalhaven Mayor, Joanna Gash. Interviewed by the local media Edmiston Jones Director, Steve Bayer, said, “The bridge has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of NSW for over 120 years and has state heritage significance. While we appreciate the limitations of its deterioration and the maintenance required, it would be a disgrace to lose this icon. The removal of vehicular traffic from the bridge would reduce the loads on the structure and minimise maintenance.”
Edmiston Jones vision is “to create extraordinary built environments, that are sustainable and sensible, enhancing the lives of all touched by them.”The built environment we enjoy is more than just buildings and we see our responsibility as architects extending to the urban environment. The preservation of the historic Shoalhaven Bridge seems to be eminently sensible and is certainly a sustainable solution. It also has the real possibility of becoming an extraordinary community space capable of enhancing the lives of the local residents as well as visitors to the region.