Taipā Bridge, New Zealand

Designing a bridge to reach the beauty of New Zealand

The wonders of New Zealand’s northern coastal areas have long been known but not so openly accessible. The old Taipā bridge was unable to cope with handling the traffic volumes and safety requirements of locals and tourists as they flocked to the area’s popular fishing and swimming spots.

Opened in December 2019, the new Taipā Bridge is delivering better connections to the natural wonders of the Northland area. The new bridge provides residents with more reliable daily travel options, and acts as a gateway for tourists travelling to the area’s holiday destinations.

Entrusted with the design, Aurecon was presented with many multidimensional challenges to take Taipā Bridge from a 70-year-old single lane structure to a brand new two-lane connection enabler: 

Aurecon’s role on the project included civil, structural and environmental engineering design.

Going digital for the new Taipā Bridge

As part of the design role, Aurecon used digital engineering tools for virtual reality visualisation, 3D modelling and 3D laser scanning to tackle the engineering challenges.

These digital tools were gateways to safety in design, gathering project support and ensuring greater construction certainty. Learn more about how digital engineering redesigned Taipa Bridge in the case study below:

3D laser scanning

Accuracy was of paramount importance for Aurecon’s engineering design as the new Taipā Bridge was constructed within 200 mm of the existing bridge. This made the engineering designs more intricate and complex than a traditional new bridge build.

Using 3D laser scanning technology Aurecon took 3D pictures of the existing bridge down to the very last nut and bolt. The laser scanning data provided designers with millimetre-accuracy as to the location of pavements, the deck, handrails and all the other infrastructure elements. It enabled Aurecon to produce more detailed engineering designs for the new bridge that were significantly more accurate than conventional 2D drawings.

Pushing the boundaries with 3D modelling

The data collected from the 3D laser scanning process was used to create a 3D design model of the bridge. This allowed engineers to quickly and easily convey preliminary design intent in a real-world, contextual environment.

The models captured every element of the bridge design, including structures, roadside infrastructure and foundation supports, and their respective specifications and standards.

The model allowed Aurecon to see the intricate details of each element of the bridge’s design with a click of the button, helping Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to make swift decisions.

Although this pushed the boundaries of 3D modelling, Aurecon designed this solution as it was important to the success of the project.

Virtual reality helps the community to visualise the project

The waka hourua (journey) design was the result of extensive collaboration between the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and hapū, along with community feedback. The design acknowledges Taipā as an important landing place for Kupe (early visitor) in Aotearoa (New Zealand). It also wishes all who travel over the bridge a safe journey.

A virtual reality (VR) display was set up at the project’s community open day with virtual reality goggles and a visualisation of the future Taipā Bridge.As people lowered the VR goggles over their eyes, a futuristic display appeared before them. People were immersed into the design of Taipā Bridge – watching cars and trucks travel the length of the bridge, seeing where the shared footpath would be located, and noticing how structures were designed for safety.

Positive community engagement and support for the project was generated at the open day and was deemed a success by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, attributed in part to the virtual reality experience.

Through the collaboration of Waka Kotahi, Fulton Hogan, WSP and Aurecon, the new Taipā Bridge provides the local community with safer and more reliable travel options. The bridge also helps to highlight Taipā’s appeal as a popular swimming and fishing destination, encouraging more visitors and contributing to the local economy.

Award winning

The project has won the following award:

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