Ōpaoa Bridge is a heritage concrete structure built in 1914 that acts as a gateway to the South Island for those arriving from Picton. The 160 m long bridge is a historic part of Aotearoa's principal roading network that was recently deemed too narrow for consistent traffic and freight and considered vulnerable to seismic events. Therefore, WSP was hired by Waka Kotahi to replace the bridge with a contemporary two-lane bridge directly adjacent, whilst the existing bridge was restored and repurposed as a pedestrian and cycle facility for the local community.
The challenge was to provide a lighting solution that created a gateway theme for the town of Blenheim, with the option for the space also to be utilized for local events. A priority for the project was sensitivity to neighbours and the local environment, including ecology and Dark Sky preservation. Heritage New Zealand also had restrictions on what was allowed to be fixed to the old bridge structure, which became a driving factor in the design and product selection.
SOLUTION & RESULT
The outcome sought to blend the structure's historical nature with contemporary lighting, including the use of coloured light that have been programmed to celebrate events and prominent dates throughout the year. We supplied a combination of feature lighting and functional illumination of the bridge deck using subtle and discrete luminaires. This included an arrangement that contained the extra low-voltage cables within the handrail luminaire and a custom-built platform in the original drainage slots for grazing the structure. These luminaires were also selected and aimed in a manner that minimises spill-light. This reduces the impact on the ecology in the sky, the water, and the local houses and community.
As a result, WSP and the Energylight team produced a result that brought out the form and texture of the heritage site while creating depth, contrast, and sensitivity to the local community and environment. Meeting both the restrictions that Heritage New Zealand set and our own lighting values in order to protect and respect a historic structure.