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Pedestrians Saved by Trees in Gawler


Pedestrians Saved by Trees in Gawler
By Kristyn M. Levis


Various towns are recognising the benefits of shared spaces as well as increasing their urban canopy. The local government in Gawler, South Australia is among those implementing new efforts to improve their cities.

The Murray Street Project Stage 4 included the widening of the footpath on the western side of Murray Street (between Bridge Street and Walker Place). The Town of Gawler 10 Year Infrastructure Asset Work Plan includes the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, bridges, kerbs, gutters, footpaths, street assets, street lighting, stormwater, buildings and open spaces.

According to the council’s Traffic and Transport Management Plan, the “traffic calming devices implemented along Murray Street as part of its upgrades program has reduced the 85th percentile speed of vehicles (below 40km/h on Murray Street)”. The council has implemented mid-block pedestrian refuges and associated kerbside extensions with pram ramps.

“While these crossings do not legally require vehicles to give way to pedestrians, they promote lower vehicle speeds by narrowing the roadway, thereby improving pedestrian safety and connectivity,” the plan said.

They are considering the future implementation of a 40km/h speed limit along Murray Street to provide “a formalised low speed environment 24/7 and promote the town centre as a pedestrian friendly area”.

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Gary Kerr, Depot Coordinator for the Town of Gawler in South Australia, managed the tree planting in the area for the stage four project in June 2013. He also completed the same tree-planting project in stage one of the Murray Street footpath upgrade in September 2008.

The project included the planting of two trees at each pedestrian crossing in Murray Street. There were two crossings in stage one and two crossings in stage four. The tree planting project budget for materials only was around $10,000.

“The crossings are in the centre of the roadway and the material we had to plant the trees into was highly compacted due to an old railway line that used to go through the main street years ago,” Kerr said.

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In 2008, Kerr and his team approached Arborgreen for their assistance to see what’s in the market to suit the project’s needs. The Citygreen Stratacell system was recommended as there was no other system that suited the circumstances quite well.

“With the strength of the pods being able to place in the roadway and allowing the air space for the tree roots, it suited this situation with the compacted base material,” he said.

The team used a similar system from Arborgreen in stage one of the project “with good results and outcomes”. Aside from the Stratacells, the project also used root barrier, geotextile, tree grates, primary and secondary root ball irrigation system, steel tree guards and hydro-cell soil.

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“The soil volume was the main issue along with compaction and also where they are positioned in the road corridor. The Stratacell system catered for all our requirements especially soil volume. The design was exactly what we needed,” Kerr said.

There were no serious issues encountered during the project. The only issue was in terms of traffic management as the trees were planted in the middle of the roadway.

“Everything went smoothly. We had to do the construction work overnight because of the large volume of traffic that use Murray Street. Rod Gooden from Arborgreen was onsite with both projects and was very helpful in assisting me with the installation,” he said.

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They found the Citygreen Stratacell system to be very easy to install. “The key is to have good plant operators that can dig to correct depths and levels,” Kerr said.

They didn’t include rainwater harvesting in the design because of the project’s position on the roadway. They had a ring feed watering system, which the staff hand-watered when needed. This was the only option they had to water the trees on the site.

With their experience using the system on the Murray Street project, Kerr said there is no reason why they wouldn’t use the same system in future projects. Today, the trees are looking great from both projects in 2008 and 2013.

Citygreen teams with Lend Lease, PWP, and JPW to deliver modular Stratavault system at Barangaroo

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© artist’s impression of central barangaroo, virtual ideas pty ltd, april 2014. subject to planning approval_thumb_800

Citygreen teams with Lend Lease, PWP, and JPW to deliver modular Stratavault system at Barangaroo
Release: 29 April 2015

Barangaroo was a vacant 22 hectare former container wharf on the western harbour foreshore of the Sydney CBD. A $6 billion transformation of Barangaroo is well underway and will transform Sydney’s position as a financial services hub in the Asia Pacific by generating jobs, boosting the economy, and providing a new place to live, work, and visit. Barangaroo will feature 75,000 trees, plants, and shrubs, planted using Citygreen’s modular Stratavault system.

Opening in July, Barangaroo Point is a sprawling six-hectare harbour foreshore park allowing visitors to soak up the action on Sydney Harbour while revelling in lush naturalistic parkland. Providing space for recreation, expression, celebration, and community, it features bush walks, grassed areas, lookouts, walking and cycle paths, a cultural centre, and an underground 300-space car park.


An international tender process was held for the park’s design in 2009/2010 with Johnson Pilton Walker in association with Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture, landing the contract. The team’s winning design juxtaposed a rugged sandstone topography inspired by the naturalistic pre-1836 shoreline of the historic Port Jackson area, against a flourishing and modern CBD. A disused shipping container yard is now one of Sydney’s most stunning green headlands, visually linking the headland archipelagos of Balls Head, Goat Island, and Ballast Point.

Incorporating native Sydney plants such as large Angophoras, Banksias, and Port Jackson and Moreton Bay fig trees, the vegetation element follows very strictly on the vocabulary of the natural bush when the Aboriginal Gadigal people were living there.


Today, trees in cities are a very desirable, hugely beneficial part of our lives. But providing enough uncompacted, quality soil beneath pavements for trees in urban areas is a challenge. Citygreen was engaged to solve this problem by implementing its modular Stratavault system. The system employs advanced design geometry and reinforced copolymers to produce an incredibly robust, skeletal matrix; providing adequate support for pavement loads. Barangaroo Central will consist of 7492 Stratavault units (approximately 2000m2), allowing trees to thrive naturally for the enjoyment of park users. A tree-lined promenade, also planted using the Stratavault system, will be a prominent feature linking Barangaroo Point to Barangaroo South.


Peter Walker, Landscape Architect and Lead Designer, said, “One of the elements of the harbour headlands is that in their natural form they were examples of the bush. They still play a strong part of this symbolic meaning of the Sydney Cove area so we were determined to recreate that rich, complicated and more interesting plant composition for the forum of the headland, while adding a dimension of naturalness to the overall park.”

For more information on Citygreen’s Stratavault system, download the technical brochure.

For an interactive tour of Barangaroo, visit www.barangaroo.com.

Binding Old and New at Lansdowne Park


Binding Old and New at Lansdowne Park – Ottawa, Canada
By Kristyn M. Levis

Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park has gone through extensive redevelopment with three major components that makes the venue a significant national and international attraction.

The revitalisation was planned early 2009 as part of a series of initiatives approved by the Ottawa Council. In June 2010, the council voted to continue the Lansdowne Partnership Plan (LPP), “an innovative and dynamic solution to redevelop Lansdowne Park” through a partnership of the city with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG).


Lansdowne Park is a world-class attraction that “blends modern amenities, courtyards, heritage buildings and green space”. The urban public destination, well situated in the heart of Ottawa, features events and activities for all ages and all seasons.

The new Lansdowne revitalisation is a “model of modern-day innovation in an urban form where people can go to walk, cycle, shop, enjoy a good meal, be entertained, work, live and play” in an environment respectful of the city’s architectural heritage.

The plan included the renovation of the TD Place stadium, mixed-use area with shops, residences and offices, and the 18-acre urban park.

PFS Studio LD Park

The main aim of the refurbished stadium is to “seamlessly integrate the facility into the new urban setting by using varied and natural features”. The TD Place Stadium features 24,000 seats and newly refurbished 10,000 seat indoor arena. It will host sports events, concerts and performances by headline acts. The first major park event in the renovated stadium was held in July this year.

The urban park redevelopment enabled Lansdowne Park to be “re-integrated with the Rideau Canal Corridor as the site once was connected historically”. The majority of the asphalt was removed and replaced with a “front lawn”, stretching across the eastern portion of the overall site along the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and the Rideau Canal. The urban park feature also incorporated the two heritage structures – the Horticulture Building and the Aberdeen Pavilion, as centrepieces for the park.

The proposed mixed-use area aims to create a “unique urban village that includes a mix of commercial and residential buildings, open spaces and corridors, which will serve a variety of purposes”.

“This component of the redevelopment plan provides a unique pedestrian environment focused on a retailing area that will complement and support activities at Lansdowne and be integrated with existing commercial uses along Bank Street,” the website said.

The mixed-use area also includes residential uses that integrate with the surrounding community and provide an 18-hour cycle of activity for the overall site.

Jeffrey Staates, partner at PFS Studio and project landscape architect for Lansdowne Park, has been involved with the project since 2010 and led the team for the international design competition. They were awarded the project in June 2010 and design started in July 2010.

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Staates said they were tasked with the redevelopment of the urban park. They refurbished the heritage building Horticulture Pavilion next to Aberdeen Square where the Citygreen modular Stratacell system was installed.

The system was included in the recommendation to pursue the largest soil volume possible from the standpoint of longevity. The major installation of soil cells was in the centre of Aberdeen Square, named after the heritage structure in the site.

“A good deal of the public realm is over slab. We wanted to provide structural stability while ensuring large soil volumes that would support large healthy trees,” Staates said.

The Aberdeen Pavilion is a city landmark with a capacity for 2,800 visitors. The Aberdeen Square north of the pavilion is home to Ottawa’s Farmer’s Market. The park features more than 800 trees, including an orchard of heirloom apple trees. The Horticulture building has also been revitalised for special events and community use.

Staates said he isn’t aware of any issues with the product during installation and after the project was finished. The only complications with the project were more in terms of jurisdiction. The team was obliged to consult with several organisations with lengthy approvals of plans and a number of jurisdictional reviews that had to be satisfied. But in the end, all bodies approved the use of the Stratacell system.


As for the integration of water harvesting, the design allowed for the collection of water from the roof of the horticulture building and recycling water from the water play area in the urban park and using that for irrigation at night.

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services (PRCS) department is already scheduling a program of activities and events to suit the unique spaces in the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building.

Images provided by PFS Studio.
Regional Stocklist/Distributor  Greenblue Infrastructure Solutions (formerly Citygreen Urban Limited).

Tree renewal at a prestigious Victorian School


Tree renewal at a prestigious Victorian School keeps future bright for students
By Kristyn Levis


When one of the schools in Victoria needed to revamp its facilities, the architects had to find a robust soil cell that would suit the limited space of the project without compromising soil volumes for the trees.

The Citygreen modular Stratacell system is an all around product that ticked all of the requirements for this campus in Keilor East, Victoria.

The Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School project required the redevelopment of the Boys Middle School, which included a new facility and refurbishment to the existing classroom building.

Penleigh and Essendon Grammar is a Uniting Church School for boys and girls with campuses in Essendon, Moonee Ponds and Keilor East in Victoria. The school is the union of Penleigh Presbyterian Ladies’ College and Essendon Grammar School.

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Joshua Chia, Senior Landscape Architect from ACLA, was part of the design team for the project, including architects from McBride Charles Ryan. The design stage started in mid 2011 and construction began early 2012. The whole thing was completed by July 2013 with a landscape budget of around $400,000.

“The landscape scope included the main entry and courtyard design, providing active and passive recreational opportunities for students while facilitating access between the two buildings,” Chia said.

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He added that a double row of avenue of trees were proposed centrally within the courtyard to provide shade and cooling from the surrounding hardscape, while strengthening the orthogonal lines of the buildings, designed to reflect the principles of the Roman Forum.

“A super advanced feature tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) was proposed for the main entry as a focal point,” Chia said.

Because of the restricted space of the courtyard and its intended use in facilitating access and providing areas for ball games, Chia said the design had to be robust.

“Existing trees planted in small tree pits within the existing courtyard had damaged the pavement and become a safety issue. To allow for trees to be installed within pavement and become a major asset for the space, we felt the Stratacell system was the best solution in providing uncompacted soil around the trees while structurally supporting the pavement above,” Chia said.

Aside from the Stratacell system, the project also used Citygreen’s RootRain Precinct.


The RootRain Precinct and ArborVent kits are for central urban locations requiring a permanent irrigation/aeration solution and heavy-duty cast-iron inlet. The series have been specially designed to interlock with Citygreen’s range of integrated tree grilles. This provides a tamper resistant system that will also prevent the inlet sinking as a result of any soil settlement around the tree.

“Based on past failures of trees in urban environments and damage to surrounding pavements, it’s proof that adequate soil volumes are very important. While we were unable to achieve the absolute ideal target soil volume on this project due to budget restraints, we saw any significant improvements to the growing conditions as being beneficial,” Chia said.

The biggest issue they faced was designing within such a tight budget. Although they had to substitute materials and treatments, Chia said they were “adamant that the Stratacell system had to go in”.

It’s only been a year since the trees were planted, but Chia said the trees are establishing well.

“We are hopeful that this will continue to be the case for years to come. There is no doubt the Stratacell system provides major benefits over other more traditional systems” he said.


Based on the feedback from contractors, Chia said they knew that the system was very simple to install. They had very little issues with the installation and a Citygreen representative was present to help guide the contractors through the installation process.

Chia said they have since incorporated the Stratacell system into a number of subsequent projects.

“The trees are looking great. However, having only been a year, we are sure we will see the benefits in the coming years,” he said.

Growing Trees Smarter in Marrickville


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Trees usually come second to footpaths, roads, kerbs and gutters – but Marrickville Council is determined to turn this thinking around.

So when a footpath was being upgraded in Cavendish Street Stanmore, Council’s ‘whole of street’ approach presented an opportunity to remove and replace three very large Ficus hillii with an in-road tree planting of three super-advanced Waterhousea floribunda (Weeping Lilly Pilly).

This new approach by Council means that damage from tree roots to nearby properties and structures will be prevented. It’s all part of a new initiative called Connecting Marrickville.

Connecting Marrickville puts people and the places they live in at the centre of all infrastructure planning. It aims to make streetscapes better now and into the future. How? By integrating all elements that make up a liveable sustainable community.

Gwilym Griffiths, Council’s Coordinator Tree Management, was part of the multi-disciplinary team who worked on the design, construction and communication. He said the objectives were to demonstrate a new way of managing the conflicts between trees and infrastructure; plan for large trees in tight urban spaces so that there is significantly less need for pruning and patching of damaged infrastructure, and to integrate tree works and footpath replacements in one project.

The project site construction started early May 2014 and finished in June 2014.


“There is more and more pressure on street trees,” he said.

“In many towns and cities, development means that people and trees are brought into increasingly closer contact. Space for large trees to establish to full maturity is limited. It’s all exacerbated by poor or disturbed soil conditions in built up areas, and conflicts with underground and aboveground services,” Griffiths said.

“And there’s this idea that large trees cause damage or can be dangerous. They might drop branches, or block sunlight, or damage infrastructure,” he added.

Connecting Marrickville will manage these issues by planning for the needs of the trees (providing them with the soil and space for long term growth) instead of just planting trees in the spaces ‘left over’ after development.

In a council video about the project, residents commented on the bumpy footpaths, saying while they wanted more greenery, they didn’t want tree roots ripping up the path.

The three large trees roots were also growing into people houses, with one even growing into someone’s bath.

Council removed those trees, fixed the footpath, and planted the new trees in-road using the Citygreen Stratacell system.

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“We chose this system because it provided the best soil volume per dollar when compared with other structural soil systems such as aggregate soil and pier and beam vaulted systems,” Griffiths said.

“Adequate soil volumes are crucial for sustainable tree growth. Providing soil volumes upfront for trees provide better trees and less impact on infrastructure,” he said.

The system, Griffiths said, is very easy to install and doesn’t require specialist skills. They had very minor difficulties fitting cells around numerous services, and during the initial design phase, in getting the specification correct.

“We also received a lot of rain during construction, which required pumping out and modification of the gutter to reduce the amount of water flowing into the pits,” he said.


Ryan Hawken, Council’s urban water engineer, said although the upfront cost was higher than previous projects, there are long term benefits such as much less damage to footpaths and houses.

Council will monitor costs over time in order to continuously improve performance and management of streets and trees. Since the project was completed, Griffiths said the biggest issue has been to maintain adequate water to the trees.

“Initial water budget estimates were quite low and since completion have been increased to accommodate actual site requirements,” he said.

The project included planting of biodiverse species of grass and ground cover and stormwater management by adding permeable paving over the tree pit to capture surface water. “And the Stratacell fits well with this,” Griffiths said.


“Today, the trees look good and are stable. We would definitely use a similar system again,” he said.

The project is being used as a case study for Council’s Connecting Marrickville initiative. This project delivers on a range of Council strategies and provides Council with a great example of what can be achieved with the right thinking.

Marrickville Video

For a full project view, see the multifunctional infrastructure case study video created by the Marrickville Council. It includes commentary from the projects landscape architect Yvonne Vale, Gwilym Griffiths, Council’s Coordinator Tree Management, Water Engineer Ryan Hawken, and Cavendish Street residents.

Trees with Stratacell Result in Vibrant Transformation


Trees with Stratacell Result in Vibrant Transformation
By Kristyn M. Levis


The Vaughan Street Redevelopment, dubbed Vaughan Central, has created a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere in Greater Shepparton, Victoria.

The redevelopment of the Vaughan Street precinct, which started in July 2013 and finished in November 2013, involved three major stages. It enhances pedestrian access and central urban space in a street that connects the Shepparton railway regional transport hub, the suburban bus network and the taxi services with the Shepparton CBD.

The first stage of the urban renewal project involved significant streetscape and construction works to the commercial area, road and parking areas. The areas included the upgrade of the streetscape of Vaughan Street between Corio and Maude Streets, raised pedestrian crossings and footpath along the southern side of Vaughan Street, removal of existing angled street parking and replaced with parallel parking and a better flow of traffic, a new taxi rank, CCTV, and the removal of street trees. It was worth $3 million with contributions from the Regional Development Victoria, Lascorp and the Greater Shepparton City Council.

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“The removal of street trees will result in visible vegetation loss. However, the removal of unsuitable trees and the placement of an avenue of trees more suitable to the environment will enhance the streetscape in time,” the website said.

The council site said the new Zelkova trees are very suitable for the commercial business environment. The design of the Citygreen® modular Stratacell system® “allows better watering and aeration for the root system as well as better drainage”.

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“This encourages the establishment of roots to grow beneath the surface, reducing the disruption to paving. The roots will grow deeper in the moist soil to encourage drought tolerance,” the site said.

The site said the council included the Stratacell system in the design to “encourage the tree roots to spread through the un-compacted soil without impacting on the road and infrastructure.

Heath Chasemore, team leader for Parks at the Greater Shepparton City Council, provided advice to the project manager on the landscape design and ongoing maintenance issues.

The Greater Shepparton City Council has used the Citygreen Stratacell system on a number of locations before the Vaughan Street development, with the first installation completed three years ago.

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“Soil volumes are very important to the ongoing sustainability of tree planting. A benefit of this system is the ability to increase soil capacity by the addition of more modules,” Chasemore said.

The only minor issue they faced was training contractors to install the system. But this was easily overcome by the presence of Arborgreen staff spending time on site with contractors, explaining how to install the product.

“Once staff and contractor were shown the correct installation, the product was very easy to install,” he said.

Their biggest issue was with the location of services into the growing space during the initial design phase but it was easily solved.

“Because we have integrated this product into the design stage there was a good fit with other landscape elements,” Chasemore said.

Liesl Malan from Liesl Malan Landscape Architects said the city of Shepparton is “a tough environment for trees”.

“Winter is cold and the frosts are heavy. Summer is hot and extremely dry and the selection of commercially available stock suited to the climate is much more limited than the range available to our colleagues in city areas.

“Once we all accepted the sad reality that the existing trees were in such poor condition that we would be unable to retain them, we spent a great deal of time working with Greater Shepparton City Council to find the right tree combination for the new streetscape,” she said.

Malan added that there was anxiety over the removal of the existing trees and the challenges of successfully establishing new street trees.

“We decided to introduce the idea of using tree cells during the concept phase of the project and fought hard to retain them during the inevitable budget reviews,” she said.

Some of the challenges faced by the team include construction timing and stock availability, and the size of the new trees as they were not as large as specified. However, Malan said they’re “confident that the tree cells will provide a good growing environment” and the trees will be able to “provide shade for the streetscape in a relatively short period of time”.


The redevelopment of Vaughan Street was a “tremendous opportunity to reinforce the link between the railway station and the mall”.

“We were able to fix the uncomfortable camber of the road and the narrow (in some cases non-existent) footpath provision. We created generous, consistent footpath areas, pedestrian crossings at a consistent level to the footpaths and a series of welcoming seating areas. Unique furniture pieces were designed drawing on Shepparton’s history, industry and natural environment,” Malan said.

These features for the project were key to creating a strong identity, specific to the Riverina. The furniture was made locally and can be easily replaced using local skills and resources, if necessary.

“In removing the existing trees, we were very conscious of the significant investment the city had made in planting the original Plane trees. They were the best option available at the time and they have provided a shaded, welcoming streetscape ever since. They have also withstood the installation of so many new services as the city has grown and modernised,” Malan said.


“We hope that incorporating tree cells in the new streetscape will, in time, be seen as the best way to balance the needs of the trees and the necessary infrastructure for the rest of this century,” she added.

As of today, Chasemore said the “trees are looking good in this location and at other locations where this product is installed”. They are planning to use the system again in the next streetscape development.