CityGreen continues to impress Dandenong
By: Kristyn Maslog-Levis
The CityGreen® modular StrataCell system® continues to impress contractors for the City of Dandenong shared space project at the City Street and North Station Plaza.
Dandenong is located in the heart of Melbourne’s growing southeast corridor, which was the focus of the state government’s $290 million funded project.
The initiative “Revitalising Central Dandenong” aims to rejuvenate the city centre and is being delivered by the Victorian government through Places Victoria, in partnership with the City of Greater Dandenong.
Over 250 trees were planted as part of the revitalisation of Dandenong, which started in August 2010. The StrataCell system replaced previous systems used that were too expensive.
ASPECT Studios was the lead consultant, Urban Designer and Landscape Architect for the City Street and Station North Plaza project. The company handled everything from the concept design to construction documentation.
The project’s primary objective was to provide the main pedestrian link between the revitalised central Dandenong and the Dandenong Railway Station.
“This connection takes on various forms of urban plaza and ‘shared street’ with extensive greening through trees and rain gardens. It serves as a major food, retail, residential and commercial destination for this part of Dandenong,” says Blake Farmar-Bowers from ASPECT.
The ‘Shared Vision’ for Dandenong includes easy and safer pedestrian connections around the city, improved traffic situation and public transport, attractive public spaces for people to relax, high standards of environmental sustainability, more life on the streets and more green across the city centre.
Blake said there was very minimal available growing space for street trees as the area was a very urban and paved environment along with extensive underground services. One of the biggest issues they found was designing the tree surrounds so that it withstands fire truck loading.
“StrataCells were used to increase the depth of the viable growing soil media, creating best conditions for these trees to flourish given these constraints,” he added.
Blake recalls that the “irregular shaped garden beds created complexity with extent of StrataCell lay pattern”. But with the assistance of CityGreen and Civilscape, the contractor for the project, the installation went very well.
Since then, ASPECT has pursued the use of CityGreen systems in several of its other projects.
“A complete system comprising arbor system, grates and guards has been useful in the specification of further CityGreen products,” Blake says. So far, Blake confirms the trees are looking good with no issues that he’s aware of.
Hayes Heffer, the head contractor from civil construction company Civilscape, agrees with ASPECT’s view on the CityGreen system. For him, the biggest issue of the project was the compaction of the soil, which was resolved with the use of the StrataCells. He says he found the system very easy to install and that they will definitely be using it in future projects.
The City Street and North Station Plaza project was the first time that ASPECT and Civilscape used the StrataCells, but they were aware of the system being used on the Lonsdale and Langhorne street project, which was a major streetscape development costing around $30 million.
The Lonsdale Street has been turned into one of Melbourne’s great boulevards with a green and pedestrian-friendly main street encompassing the city’s vibrant retail industry.
By using StrataCells, they were able to reduce the cost, which allowed them to achieve all the benefits that were needed to finish the project. Like ASPECT, the consultants of the Lonsdale and Langhorne Street project never used the CityGreen system before. But after seeing the results of the projects in Auckland, New Zealand, they were inspired to use the same system for the Dandenong project.
After the Lonsdale project, the landscape contractor recommended the use of the CityGreen system on several of their projects, due to their “high support strength, ease of installation, and ability to thread services up to 100mm diameter through the cells and maintain proper soil density”. Its modular interlocking design also enables a flexible approach to design.
The StrataCells structural soil cells can be assembled to form a skeletal matrix that supports pavement and traffic loads. This structural cell system features almost five times more available growing media compared to the traditional rock/soil method, therefore facilitating healthy root growth. Because of its high structural integrity, these matrices can be used beneath trafficked areas.
CityGreen is very proud of its role in the successful installation of urban spaces especially after a study from the University of Exeter in the UK showed that people living in urban areas with greater green space are happier compared to those living in areas with less green space.
The study showed that the residents have significant lower mental distress and higher wellbeing and life satisfaction. Aside from providing quality products and services to urban planners, CityGreen also pays constant attention to the benefits of expanding green spaces in urban areas as well as ensuring that their products are environmentally sustainable.
The StrataCell modules are recyclable and are manufactured from 100 per cent recycled polymer. As there are no steel components, the modules are corrosion free.