A vital pedestrian link that for the first time connects both sides of Deakin University’s Burwood campus was officially opened by Victorian Planning Minister the Hon Richard Wynne MP and Vice Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO.
The architecturally-designed crossing over Gardiners Creek forms part of the newly named Morgan’s Walk, giving students, staff and the community a safe and accessible way to move across the university from Burwood Highway through to Elgar Road.
Professor den Hollander said Morgan’s Walk, named in recognition of former Deakin Chancellor David Morgan AO, would help Deakin provide a safe, modern and accessible campus.
“Deakin’s commitment to supporting the communities we serve means ensuring everyone can access and move through our campuses easily and safely,” Professor den Hollander said.
“Morgan’s Walk is an accessible link that complements the creek environment and has been built to reflect community feedback. Most importantly, it will end decades of discrimination against people with disabilities and provide a suitable crossing for students, staff, cyclists, the elderly and parents with prams.
“With the development of the pedestrian crossing, the traffic jams of students – upwards of 40,000 pedestrians a week in peak time – will be taken off the ground and out of the way of community members walking dogs, exercising and enjoying this beautiful reserve.”
Mr Morgan said he was proud to be linked to an important part of Deakin’s history.
“It is critical that our public institutions do their utmost to provide an inclusive and safe environment for the communities they serve,” Mr Morgan said.
“This is what Deakin is known for and I hope this pedestrian link provides a great comfort to the University community. I couldn’t think of a better way to be recognised.”
Minister Wynne said the Victorian Government intervened and gave planning approvals because the pedestrian link was crucial for accessibility and safety.
“This was a project far too important to be held up at the planning stage. This is ultimately all about the accessibility of all people on campus and the safety of everybody,” Mr Wynne said.
“This is a great advancement for one of Melbourne’s flagship universities. For too long, people living with a disability, the elderly or people with prams have been without a suitable crossing over the Gardiners Creek Reserve.”
A link of architectural significance
Architect Rob Watson said he had a simple goal in mind when designing the pedestrian crossing – make it the most elegant structure possible.
“We needed something that was fit for purpose, ultimately providing a safe link over the Gardiners Creek Reserve that runs down the middle of the university campus,” Mr Watson said.
“I really wanted to make the ordinary, extraordinary. To take a utilitarian structural system and reconstitute it in a considered and highly detailed manner.
“There’s no redundancy in the design. Meaning that every element is there for a purpose either structural or for amenity; nothing has been added for embellishment.”
The link is constructed from steel fabricated in Victoria, protected by a natural layer of rust that will deepen as it ages.
“Steel was the lightest and most efficient way of doing the spans, and we have the perfect temperate climate for these kind of steel structures,” Mr Watson said.
“We had to look at a 100 year-plus lifespan for the crossing and this structure will weather well without the need for major cleaning or re-painting works that would have impacted on the public land it covers.”
Accessibility and safety for the whole Deakin community
Importantly, Morgan’s Walk ensures the link between both sides of campus are disability compliant.
President of the Deakin University Student Association Dana Harding said the student body were pleased to see the opening of the crossing.
“The link now provides Deakin students with a better level of accessibility, connectedness and safety on campus,” Ms Harding said.
“Before the link, students studying between campuses were crossing at Gardiners Creek, where there is poor lighting, unsafe ground and no disability access.
“Deakin students have been long awaiting the creation of the bridge. The link provides students a new level of freedom and ease of movement between the two sides of campus, in addition to fostering a stronger sense of community at Deakin.”
Source: Deakin University