If you’ve travelled north of Auckland over summer, you can’t have missed this delightfully engaging bridge over the new toll road, a bridge that acts as a gateway to “the winterless north”—a sign for Aucklanders that now you’re really on holiday.
And what’s almost as delightful as the bridge itself has been the positive reaction to it, so much so that the bureaucratically named ‘Hillcrest Road Bridge’ soon earned itself the more evocative handle ‘The Pukeko Bridge’—for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who’s ever enjoyed the local ‘swamp-hen.’
Designed by architect Jeff Wells of Jasmax, who developed a love of bridges over the course of his career which he’s now being allowed to blossom forth, the bridge reflects (to some extent) the property rights of the land-owner whose land was cut in two for the toll road to be built is designed – it links the two halves of his property so his cattle can make the journey from one paddock to another.
That’s quirky enough for some, but combine that with the apparent droop of the road -– which simply follows the original contours of the ground before the road cutting was made, allowing the bridge deck to be formed as the cut was being made -– and the spindly bright “red legs,” and you’ve got a quiet achievement here that’s worth celebrating: a bridge on NZ’s highway system with character.
Up to now, that’s been a very rare thing
But it looks like, as long as Jeff Well’s career lasts, it might be happening more frequently.