Inspire : Public Works Jan Feb 2013
COVER STORY ON YA BIKE In Tasmania, a collaboration between different groups resulted in bike hoops with a personality. The Cultural Development team and Infrastructure Ser vices department of Hobart City Council, as well as the Tasmanian State Government, through Arts Tasmania, teamed up for the project. "The council's Infrastructure Ser vices department approached the Cultural Development team and asked about reinventing the traditional bike hoop structures around the city," says Jane Castle, Cultural Programs Coordinator for Hobart City Council. Together, the local and state government, through Arts Tasmania, set about developing the Artbikes project. "The project had three aims," says Castle. "To support sustainable transport in the city; to make people more aware of our cultural institutions; and to develop unique pieces of public art." Local artist, architect and urban designer, Ken Betlehem, was commissioned to design the new- look bike hoops. In addition to Betlehem, traffc and structural engineers, as well as an engineer who specialised in Australian Standards, planners, assessors, project managers, an archaeologist (many of the project sites were heritage areas) and fabricators were involved making Artbikes a reality. "For a relatively small project, there were many people involved in it," says Castle. "This was perhaps the biggest challenge because there were so many stakeholders and numerous approvals required." Another test the project faced was the subjectivity of art. "Everyone has an opinion," explains Castle. "This can prove challenging when trying to get a consensus on an artistic element." However, Castle also says without the collaboration of the groups, the fnal outcome wouldn’t have been as signifcant. The fnancial collaboration is also what made the project possible. Hobart City Council allocates $100,000 annually to public art. The Artbikes project cost around $60,000. "If commissioning and maintaining all public artworks in the city came down to the Cultural Development team, $100,000 wouldn't be enough to maintain Artbikes and establish new projects," explains Castle. Despite the bike hoops being designed to be robust, they still need maintenance. In this instance, they are maintained by the council's Infrastr ucture Ser vices department. Betlehem designed a series of human characters for the new bike racks, each of which would be per manently installed outside six of Hobart's cultural institutions. The government also established a feet of 15 free bikes along with helmets, bike locks and touring maps so visitors and residents alike can use the racks and visit the museums and art galleries. Artbikes blurs the line between art and infrastr ucture. Technology played a big role in this. Betlehem drew the bike hoop concepts by hand, which were then translated into CAD. The fabricators then used these to create the aluminium pieces, which throughout the process had design tweaks so they were the right size for strength, durability and accessibility. Community involvement during the project development wasn't large; however, since the installation of the aluminium character bike racks, the community have taken to them with gusto. "They are defnitely well used,” says Castle. “Children in @ Everyone has an opinion about art. This can prove challenging when trying to get a consensus on an artistic element. 18 Public Works Professional February 2013 The Artbikes program saw Hobart's bike racks and hoops take on human forms to add a bit of personality.
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