A fusion of art and concrete
Described by Holcim staff as the equivalent of building a wet jigsaw puzzle in the dark, the new roundabout at the entrance to picturesque Busselton is a perfect example of Holcim's desire and ability to undertake and complete even the most difficult of architectural projects.
The Shire of Busselton wished to create an entry statement to the town that both addressed a major road and traffic issue as well as depict the Noongar stories of travelling from the south west hills to the coast through the various Aboriginal seasons and linking these six Aboriginal seasons to the traditional four western seasons. A major traffic hazard existed at the intersection alongside St Mary's historic church and the Busselton Visitor Centre. Immediately after crossing the Vasse River, this intersection effectively marked the beginning of the CBD area but rather than greeting visitors to Busselton, the intersection was a potential traffic accident waiting to happen.
The solution was to change from an intersection to a roundabout, but not just any roundabout. The Busselton roundabout project enabled the Shire of Busselton and the south west Noongar community to create a visual representation of the Noongar seasons at a major traffic roundabout in central Busselton, opposite the Busselton Visitor Centre. An artist was hired and drawings and concept plans were conceived.
The problem for the Shire of Busselton was then how to recreate an artist's image and visual story in materials suitable for one of the town's major traffic areas: enter Holcim and its Architectural Projects team.
After being approached by the project co-ordinator, Bret Howson, the Holcim team undertook to exactly match the swathe of colours from the original artwork not only in colour but also in texture. The first step for Holcim was to experiment with the mixing of various coloured oxides until they could exactly match all of the numerous colours. In all there were over 20 different colours and textures that were developed for the project. The roundabout required not only exposed aggregate concrete areas but trafficable kerbing and outer surfaces as well as adjacent footpaths and pram ramps .... all in different colour grids.
The roundabout was to reflect the Noongar people's travels from the hills to the ocean and a limestone and gravel exposed aggregate mix coincidentally already named "Ocean to Earth" was chosen as the foundation mix for the various ochre colours that would represent this travel path from the ochre gravels through rich deep soils to the pale coastal strip. Two of these colours developed specifically for this project now form part of the Holcim Concept™ range in Vasse and Meelup (sub-regions of Western Australia). These travels were aligned to the now little known six Noongar seasons and the roundabout visually represents these seasons against the western seasons of summer, autumn, winter and spring.
The Holcim team having accepting the job of needing to produce a patchwork quilt of wet concrete colours faced then a further challenge in that the entire project must be completed at night in the frosty cold of winter. Apart from the obvious logistical challenges, this presented another issue for the Holcim team as concrete requires heat to enable the process of hydration or the setting and curing of the concrete to occur.
Undaunted, Holcim hired Russell Lines' Jetline Paving and kerbing to build the initial outer kerbs and later complete all the adjoining footpath areas. Remember each piece of coloured kerb only travelled a couple of metres before it changed colour completely and that each concrete truck can only carry one particular colour!
The task of completing the major part of the jigsaw puzzle, the various pie shaped textured and exposed aggregate sections, was undertaken by Greg Higgins' Westec Concrete. This task meant spending each day planning and preparing for the evening and then that night, pouring and exposing aggregate until around 6:00am.
The Holcim team estimated an eight-night pour to complete the project but thanks to the enthusiasm of both the Jetline and Westec grano teams, the complete project was achieved over just six nights. For late night passers by, it was an unusual sight to see teams of grano workers, often three ready-mix concrete trucks on-site at any one time and floodlights and detour signs in the middle of the town.
Though not a huge concrete pour in terms of volume, the Busselton roundabout project presented a logistical challenge for the Holcim Architectural Projects team. At the conclusion of the project Holcim had demonstrated that it is ready, willing and able ..... in the most efficient manner ..... to undertake any special projects challenge.
If you are visiting Busselton, please take a look at this stunning roundabout project. When you visit and as you try to make sense of the established Western seasons, it is worthwhile examining the traditional Noongar seasons that divided the south west's climate into six rather than four separate seasons.
In Noongar Aboriginal culture, Boojar (or land) is of the utmost importance. Each tribal group had their own kaleep or favoured camping locality, which held a special significance to the Noongar people. The culture has a complex relationship to the land and pays respect to the seasons and the bountiful supply of food.
The Noongar year has six seasons, the first being from December to January. This season is called Birak where hot, easterly winds blow during the day and Noongar people used to burn sections of scrubland to force animals into the open to hunt. From February to March, during Bunuru, the dry weather conditions meant Noongars moved to estuaries where fish constituted a large proportion of the seasonal diet. During Djeran, in April to May, the weather was becoming cooler with winds from the south west. Fishing continued and bulbs and seeds were collected for food. In the coldest season, Makuru (June to July), Noongars moved inland to hunting areas once rains had replenished the inland water resources. In Djilba, as the weather was becoming warmer from August to September, roots were collected and emus, possums and kangaroo were hunted. Then in Kambarang, when the rain was decreasing (October to November), families moved towards the coast where frogs, tortoises and freshwater crayfish (or marron) were caught.
If you have a special architectural project, please feel free to contact the Holcim Architectural team via the "contacts" on this website.