Australia loves its wide open spaces, and with plenty of land to work with, it makes sense to take advantage of our cultural playground.
As planners and designers continue to expand our financial, commercial and recreational spaces (walkways, streets, foreshores and other shared spaces), designs are being constructed in increasingly visually enticing spaces. Unfortunately at times this has an unintentional negative impact on conventional practices. Therefore, creating stunning urban designs that are pedestrian, vehicular and environmentally friendly has become a well-balanced art form.
Designers must aim for flat, visually harmonious and foot friendly, yet drainable, pavements. This is the Holy Grail for urban pavement design. The design of long-lasting public areas, capable of weathering hazards and preventing accidents caused by predictable and unpredictable weather conditions; flooding traffic incidences and human behaviour, is critical. In doing so, designers can have confidence in the robustness and integrity of their designs whilst mitigating the likelihood of costly and reputation crippling lawsuits.
The environmental impact on safety
Many urban pavement hazards, in need of intelligent drainage infrastructure, are the result of environmental causes. Many of these issues are water borne resulting from heavy rainfall, surface water, flooding and stormwater. The increase of global warming has led to extreme weather conditions from one end of the spectrum to the other, ranging from drought to excessive flooding. Additionally, when environmental factors like wet or oily surfaces are out of one’s control, public access and safety can be compromised.
Having the proper drainage system set in place for each application’s individual needs – like a system catering to salt water surroundings close to the beach, or one that adapts to a sloping contour, makes an enormous difference to the sustainability of the area. This includes a pavement surface’s durability, its appearance and the safety and welfare of the public. Landscape developers, designers, architects and urban planners all play significant roles in overseeing the construction of these environments. Their role is crucial and they are held accountable.
The cost of poor infrastructure
Consider the public areas often frequented in capital cities, including government-run spaces, recreational hubs and corporate areas. You can even include the surfaces surrounding the workplace – are they littered with holes and bumps? Many surfaces are especially privy to high volumes of foot or motor vehicle traffic. Some have noticeable features that stand out for all the wrong reasons – like uneven flooring, lack of signage, poor lighting all of which are underpinned by an inadequate risk assessment. It is quite easy to recall instances of near misses, trips and falls in your local neighbourhood.
Typically many businesses and local authorities believe litigation over pavements is unlikely, as is the likelihood of poor infrastructure disrupting their business’ day-to-day operations. However the financial effects can significantly impact upon a company or authority if they get this risk assessment wrong. If litigation – arguably the most damaging outcome of lazy or improper design – isn’t enough of a deterrent for adequate planning, the consequences of preventable accidents resulting in injury and loss of income could be far reaching.
Slips and falls in public places are heavily documented often through landmark cases. Who is responsible if it happens? Often, it will vary based on local law. In some locations, pavements are the responsibility of adjacent businesses. In others, the government is solely responsible (often councils). In both cases, designers invariably would be roped into this legal environment where their documented design would then be subject to investigation from everything about the assumed traffic to the elements specified or worst still, not specified.
Poorly specified and positioned utility enclosures and services can add to the challenge of achieving flat and safe pavements. In particular, high performance trench drainage systems are not only important but need to be visually and structurally integrated to harmonise with the pavement, traffic flows and urban surrounds. Yet these highly visible elements are often not accounted for in the design and left to the last minute to be selected by the installer.
Our solution to drainage problems
Having the right drainage systems in place to ensure a low maintenance, safe level and flat pavement is essential to keeping any urban environment dynamically healthy.
ACO Drain, the world’s most advanced trench drain is built to adapt to the urban environment. Comprising modular precast Polycrete® Channels, ACO Drain boasts the industry’s widest range of grates including a dedicated range aptly named Heelsafe® Anti-Slip. ACO’s Heelsafe® Anti-Slip grates work are designed to resist slips and falls from foot traffic. They cater for easy accessibility of wheelchairs, canes and bicycles, as well as being heel friendly. Heelsafe® Anti-Slip grates are designed in accordance with slip resistance legislation and testing outlined in the AS 4586.
Such is the versatility of the system, ACO Drain is specified extensively to:
- Ensure the safe passage of pedestrian and vehicular traffic on wet days as demonstrated at King George Square, Brisbane, QLD
- Reduce nuisance splashing in densely populated areas as demonstrated at Forest Road, Bexley, NSW
- Protection of buildings and other commercially sensitive areas as demonstrated at Forrest Place Information Kiosk, Perth, WA and Farringford Apartments, Tennyson Reach, Brisbane, QLD
- Preserve visual paver continuity and aesthetically blend into the urban landscape as demonstrated at Angel Place, Sydney, NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney NSW
- Trace established streetscape periphery lines as demonstrated at Surfers Paradise Foreshore, QLD
- Be a feature pavement element as demonstrated at Pedestrian Forecourt,Milsons Point, NSW
- Integrate seamlessly with flat and level pavements as demonstrated at Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD and Hindley Street, Adelaide, SA, the latter being a shared street environment.
- Harmonise with the principles of WSUD as demonstrated at Pitt Street Mall, Sydney NSW.
For many years, ACO has worked with designers to contribute to the above-mentioned solutions. As a result, ACO has supplied drainage to many urban landscapes throughout Australia.
Talk to the experts on 1300 765 226 about our intelligent drainage solutions. No system is too complex for us and we invite you to take advantage of our obligation free drainage design service. This is useful for designers seeking the optimum design in the early design phase of a project right through to specification.