Ropes Crossing is a fully masterplanned community, located in Western Sydney, incorporating several parks and open spaces.

From conception, its developers, Lend Lease, prioritised the overarching community feel of the estate. “We don't just make new addresses - we create communities.” They promoted an active outdoor lifestyle with a big backyard for the kids and plenty of entertaining space.

Part of this vision was a planned 25km bike and walking trail, complete with pedestrian bridges, shelters and public art features. Importantly, Lend Lease wanted continuity in design across all of these linking elements, with a particular emphasis on artistically interpreting the site’s history.

Enter Fleetwood. We were engaged to work with the project’s artists, architects and planners to design and construct three art features, four bridges and five shelters.

Perhaps the most recognisable of the project’s elements were its three entry features. For the north and south access features, we engineered and modelled the structures from artists’ sketches, excavated and concreted the footings, selected materials, performed specialist manufacturing techniques and installed the completed structures. For the third entry feature (the Susanah Drive Marker Poles), we selected and recycled hardwood sleepers from the site’s dismantled Australian Defence warehouse, working them with a variety of equipment to create slots for the Corten art panels and embed coloured strips of steel. Finally, we installed the fragile artwork panels.

Needless to say, the project’s four bridges were also critical design elements. All four are zero-maintenance steel cycleway bridges across the creeks that traverse the development. For all of these bridges, we managed the site works, excavated and poured the footings then installed the bridges as pre-assembled units.

Of course, given the project’s community emphasis, its five shelters were vital too. For each, we translated architect’s sketches into realisable designs and engineer’s drawings. (No mean feat, considering one is based on the appearance of the Hercules aircraft used by the air force, in keeping with the site’s defence heritage.) We then manufactured and installed the shelters using a variety of low-maintenance materials.

This five-year, $400,000 project is a prime example of Fleetwood’s relationship-based style and ability to design and deliver to stringent budgets. Every aspect of our involvement was completed on time and within budget, and we continue to work with both the end-client and the architects on other high-profile community projects.