August 2021 saw the official opening of the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Kids’ (Koolangka) bridge. The bridge now offers safe and direct access to the Kings Park bushland from the grassed area immediately north of the Perth Children’s Hospital (PCH), in the QEIIMC hospital precinct.

The bridge was first suggested more than 10 years ago during early planning for PCH by the Foundation and coincidentally by a group of children on an advisory committee who said that a bridge crossing to Kings Park would provide much needed respite and a distraction from their treatment.

AECOM was engaged by Main Roads WA to undertake the detailed design of the bridge using the previous concept design as a guide, whilst addressing stakeholder’s safety and cost concerns of the original design.  As the Principal Designer, AECOM undertook architectural, bridge, footpath, electrical and lighting, geotechnical and drainage design services. The design services also included high quality 3D visualisations, fly throughs and animations.

This vibrant-coloured footbridge eliminates the need to traverse up to four lanes of traffic on Winthrop Avenue and provides easy access to Kings Park whilst also providing a high value aesthetic experience. The bridge also provides a wider benefit to all QEII Campus staff and patrons through increased access to existing cycling paths and pedestrian travel to work and the increased ability to use the park for fitness, lifestyle and work break activities.

The bridge lands in the Kings Park bushland which is an A Class Reserve.  Kings Park is managed by Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA) who are extremely sensitive to any disturbance to the Kings Park bushland. In response to this, AECOM worked closely with BGPA, testing numerous bridge alignments, and pier and abutment locations to minimise removal and impact on high value trees and undergrowth.  The in-ground lighting off the bridge in Kings Park utilises amber coloured fauna friendly lighting which are designed to limit impact on native flora and fauna.

The bridge aesthetics were a key aspect of the design. It needed to provide a high value user experience, whilst reflecting its primary purpose, a path for children receiving care at the Perth Children’s Hospital.  Belying the bridge’s playful simplicity, is its complex design and construction with the serpentine shape having no straight portions. Equally, none of the 2000+ individually fabricated pieces made up of outwardly sloping straight and kinked uprights were the same size or shape. The colourful scheme completes the picture, portraying the journey from the Perth Children’s Hospital to the natural tones of the Kings Park bushland.

AECOM’s Associate Director – Bridges, Mike Kakulas and Senior Landscape Architect (and 3D designer), Pedro Faustino explained that despite the design challenges and lengthy stakeholder engagement, it was great to hear the praise from Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and State Government for creating such a positive asset for the community.

“It is great to see this project come to life for the Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation and even with the significant structural changes and design constraints we were able to remain faithful to the original concept. When thinking about the architectural form of bridge, from shape to the colours to the steel uprights to the sound installation, our overriding focus was providing a safe, fun and engaging experience for the kids using the bridge.” said Mr Kakulas.

As a result of our focus in achieving the desired outcomes for our client and stakeholders in a trusted, solutions driven collaborative approach, AECOM exceeded all expectations, including our own, in the completed the final design.

“After numerous hours spent working on the design, it was great to see it all become a reality and see the smiles on the kids’ faces. It’s such a rewarding experience and the impacts of this social infrastructure are far reaching.” said Mr Faustino.