Project Description:

bowen_bridge_road_heritage_interpretation_installationThe project involved the preparation of a heritage interpretation strategy for the Northern Busway Project and the development of a specific heritage interpretation installation to communicate the heritage values associated with the Bowen Bridge Road Porphyry Wall.

The Northern Busway - Herston Road to Butterfield Street, is part of a major infrastructure initiative constructed along Bowen Bridge Road within the curtilage of the Brisbane General Hospital Precinct, which includes the Bowen Bridge Road Porphyry Wall (QHR 601903). The Wall, constructed of Brisbane Tuff, commonly known as porphyry, was constructed in 1940-41 and despite modification has defined the eastern boundary of the RBH since.

Services Provided:

  • Cultural heritage consultation;
  • Concept Design Impact Assessment;
  • Cultural heritage survey and assessment of potential for impact on cultural heritage values;
  • Conservation Management Plan;
  • Ongoing advice and redesign of infrastructure to mitigate potential impact from the project during and post-construction;
  • Development application for works in a State-registered heritage place;
  • Physical, contextual and historical background analysis;
  • Significance assessment;
  • Management, design and conservation recommendations; and
  • Heritage interpretation installation

Objectives:

The introduction of major infrastructure, such as the Northern Busway, has the potential to significantly impact on associated cultural heritage values, both directly and proximally. Considerable effort was undertaken from the beginning of the Northern Busway design process to conserve heritage values and heritage items subject to potential impact. Project design considerations resulted in the Bowen Bridge Wall being conserved in-situ for future generations and retaining its significant role as defining the boundary of the state listed Royal Brisbane Hospital and framing the Bowen Bridge Road approach to the city from the north. This conservation itself is a recognised form of heritage interpretation.

An opportunity also existed for the introduction of heritage interpretation elements into the design of the busway infrastructure to recognise the cultural landscape, foster a connection between the range of visitors to the place and the associated heritage values and enhance awareness of the context of the heritage items.

Methodology:

For projects such as the Northern Busway, where built heritage is juxtaposed with the introduction of major infrastructure, interpretation opportunities range from the literal and explanatory, to the subtle introduction of design elements which draw attention to the heritage values associated with the site.

The Converge approach to heritage interpretation emanates from best practice initiatives in which interpretation plays a key role in the communication of heritage values. The Burra Charter (ICOMOS 1999), the accepted best practice guideline for the management of heritage values within Australia, outlines the role of interpretation: "The cultural significance of many places is not readily apparent, and should be explained by interpretation. Interpretation should enhance understanding and enjoyment and be culturally appropriate" (The Burra Charter, Article 25).  Effective heritage interpretation aims to contribute a sense of meaning to a place and to provoke thought, rather than to instruct. Essentially, interpretation is part of a managed communication strategy that creates a dialogue between the visitor and the place.

Converge undertook an analysis of the interpretation opportunities for the Northern Busway and developed an interpretation strategy for three key locations within the busway infrastructure where heritage interpretation could be introduced into the project design. These included:

  • Footpath along Bowen Bridge Road;
  • Paneling above the Wall; and
  • Information screens located within the new Brisbane Hospital Bus Station.

Key to the development of the heritage interpretation strategy was a consideration of the cultural landscape surrounding the Wall. This landscape includes numerous heritage sites with associated historic themes: the Royal Brisbane Hospital Precinct; Bowen Park; the Brisbane Exhibition Showground and Victoria Park. These sites possess established heritage values that contribute to a sense of place. Converge also considered the audience for each location and the nature of appropriate interpretation opportunities. From this analysis, and historic research, a strategy was developed which guided the development of heritage installations in the three locations.

Converge undertook the concept and detailed development of an interpretation installation along the footpath adjacent to the Wall and for electronic presentations of the five identified heritage themes associated with the cultural landscape. Converge also provided guidance from a heritage perspective to artist Mandy Ridley and the NBA design team, as they developed the heritage interpretation installation in the form of panels located above the Wall which communicate the significance of the Wall in relation to the RBH and the broader cultural landscape.

Outcome:

The Tickets Through Time heritage interpretation installation concept, for the footpath adjacent the Wall, was developed by Converge in response to the heritage values surrounding the construction of the Wall and its historic relationships:

  • The construction of the Bowen Bridge Road Porphyry Wall in 1940-41 as a result of road widening;
  • The evolution of the Wall though time;
  • The historic and continuing role of Bowen Bridge road as one of the earliest primary transport corridors from Brisbane City to the north; and
  • The role of public transport in connecting the city and the northern suburbs, subsequently facilitating the expansion of Brisbane to the north.

Further historic research was undertaken in order to identify images and other material representative of the heritage values associated with the Wall. Tickets for the range of transport options and postcard images of the changing views along Bowen Bridge Road were identified as key symbols for this association. As identified in the explanatory statement for the installation:

Discarded memories ... tangible records of journeys past ... Tickets Through Time features replicas of a selection of bus and tram tickets from the 1890s to the present. This representative collection highlights the ongoing presence of varying forms of public transport along Bowen Bridge Road, complimented by postcard images of the changing face of this northern transport corridor.

The Bowen Bridge Road Porphyry (Brisbane Tuff) Wall was constructed at the beginning of the 1940s in association with road widening works. The Wall has since defined the eastern parameters of the Brisbane General Hospital, a precinct recognised on the Queensland Heritage Register.

Converge developed the Tickets Through Time concept into a heritage art installation: sourced archival tickets and photographic images from the 1890s to the present; detailed the proposed materials and installation method; documented the location, orientation and type of ticket for each of the 213 tickets and plaques located along the footpath; reviewed proofs and samples during the manufacture process and prepared a representative statement to explain the installation to the pedestrian audience. The installation was commissioned by the Northern Busway Alliance and installed into the pavement as part of the busway construction works in July 2009.

The installation, whilst subtle, is an effective introduction of heritage interpretation. Tickets Through Time is aimed at not only highlighting the heritage values associated with the Wall, but to provoke thought about the surrounding cultural landscape, a sense of continuance and connection with the heritage values and themes associated with a context which is of significance to the development of Brisbane and to the state of Queensland.

Converge was subsequently awarded a High Commendation for the interpretation strategy and Tickets Through Time installation at the 2009 National Trust of Queensland Awards.

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