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Trees with Stratacell Result in Vibrant Transformation

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

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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”.

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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.

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“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.

Trees Thrive in Concrete Pavement – Denmark

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Trees Thrive in Concrete Pavement

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The emphasis placed on the recreational areas adjacent to Novo Nordisk’s new headquarters in Bagsvaerd is clear.

There are two new notable buildings that form the framework for the new headquarters, and the buildings have space for 1,100 employees. But it is the associated park with an area of nearly 31,000 m2 – the same as about four football fields – that attracts attention.

The park area is designed to replicate the natural Danish forests and landscapes. It is a beautiful interpretation of the Danish countryside and consists of various biotypes including 50 different tree species. The park area provides natural, informal and pleasant surroundings, in which the employees can walk to meetings, enjoy the views and relax. The park area is also open to the general public and one can follow the winding white paths that meander through the various habitats.

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The tree species have been carefully chosen to provide and attractive palate of colour throughout the year. Pines and blue spruce with their evergreen needles provide a blue-green backdrop all year round. In the winter, this backdrop is supplemented by the white birch stems and the red and orange stems of the cherry trees. In spiring, these cherry trees explode in blossom, followed by the new, fresh green leaves of the beech trees. The multiple stemmed and wild trees look after themselves ensuring natural development of the biotypes is achieved with minimum levels of maintenance required.

SLA were the landscape architects responsible for the design of the park area.

  • To create a landscaped area with as much great diversity as seen in the natural Danish countryside requires, of course, diverse soil types. The soil types are carefully crafted to meet the requirements of the individual habitats in order to ensure optimal growth conditions, explains Morten Leicht Jeppesen from SLA

But it is not only the soils that have been carefully crafted to match the biotypes – as not all the trees have been planted in the biotypes. Outside the main entrance to the building the trees have been planted in the midst of the slate paving, adjacent to the entrance road and above the underground carpark! Here, StrataCells have been used as a structural soil cell system to ensure the integrity of the surrounding paved areas.

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  • “The Stratacells create an underground soil island in the concrete where the tree roots can spread even though they aren’t planted in a natural environment, this ensures a natural growth”, says Kim Bøge of Skælskør Anlægsgartnere, the landscaping company that has been responsible for the planting.

The StrataCells provide a solid, stable surface for the slate paving to be laid over.

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  • Without the Stratacells there would be a risk of the surrounding paving sinking in the soft soils when subjected to traffic loads, says Kim Bøge. The cells are there to provide support to the coating paving. It They also withstands heavy traffic loadings and adds provide good soil volume for the trees.
  • “Another feature is the relatively low weight of the Stratacell system, a very important feature when you consider that these trees are planted on the roof of an underground carpark. If the treepits are too heavy, you risk the roof collapsing”, says Morten Leicht Jeppesen.

FACTS:

  • Stratacell modules are made of 100 percent post-industrial waste.
  • The modules can be used anywhere where trees are being planted in areas with one or other coating.
  • The opening in the nesting is large enough to allow for pipe penetrations, such as drains, cables and aeration systems.
  • More than 94 percent of the total volume is available for root growth.
  • Units snap together quickly and easily, resulting in a significantly reduced time spent on the site.

For more information contact:
Mark Walton, Project Manager at Milford, www.milford.dk, tel. 44 97 10 99
Milford is a supplier of systems and products for the improvement of urban space and landscape in Scandinavia.

Stratacells Help Transplant Mature Trees in Forrest Place Australia

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Stratacells help transplant mature trees in Forrest Place Australia
By Kristyn Levis

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The Citygreen modular Stratacell system has provided a much needed solution to the transplanting of trees for the Forrest Place project in Perth Western Australia.

The project’s aim was to link Forrest Place with the Perth Station Forecourt in order to create a “grand space” for the city’s primary urban area within the CBD.

Andrew Baranowski, director of Plan E, collaborated with Woodhead Architects and the City of Perth in the planning and design of the Forrest Place and Perth Station Forecourt.

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Baranowski said the space was to be “contemporary but evocative of a traditional formal city square, cohesive in design and highly flexible to function with both a day and night culture”.

Plan E started designing the project in 2006. Construction was completed in 2013 with an overall budget of approximately $21 million. The project team was fully multidisciplinary and Plan E worked successfully with the architect, the construction engineers and electrical, structural, civil, hydraulic and irrigation consultants.

“The design establishes a seamless visual and physical connection between Forrest Place and the station forecourt by the removal of the pedestrian bridge and the stairs to Wellington Street, and extending consistent treatments across Wellington Street into the station forecourt,” Baranowski said.

He added that in order to improve the flexibility of Forrest Place as a venue for major performances and events, the stage area was repositioned and a new overhead canopy was provided.

“The space incorporates new seating areas, transplant trees, an interactive water feature and a controversial sculpture, combining to create a more dynamic and interesting space,” he said.

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One particular issue with the project was the transplanting of trees in the area. Baranowski said nine mature Chinese Elms from the Perth Station Forecourt on Roe Street had to be relocated into the space, “which presented logistical problems in terms of transport and access, as well as soil depth and space (due to construction over car park slab)”. They had limited soil depths in which to plant the proposed mature Chinese Elms on the site.

Using Stratacells as the structural soil cell easily solved this issue. Baranowski said the Stratacells “offered the perfect system to ensure an adequate volume of soils to sustain the trees into the future”.

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He said that providing adequate soil volumes to tree wells is the “single most important factor in the success of tree planting in urban spaces such as Forrest Place, particularly where the trees are semi-mature transplants and planted over a car park structure with limited soil depths ranging from 0.70 to 1.2 metres”.

That is why they wanted to ensure that the contractors installed the Stratacells correctly in the initial stage of the project. This was made easy by the site presence of a Citygreen representative during the installation process. Once the contractors knew how to install the Stratacells, every thing else fell into place. The system worked very well for the intended design of the project.

“The system is better due to its flexibility, modular design and speed of installation, in comparison to other systems we have used. The system is comparable in materials cost. However due its speed of installation, we believe that it is more cost effective overall,” he added.

He said that the trickiest issue they faced was getting the drainage to the tree wells working correctly. It resulted in a number of the trees failing. During replacement of the trees, further drainage was installed which resolved the problem.

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Other challenges that the project faced include the lighting design, water delivery and the selection of robust materials. Lighting is a significant feature of the Forrest Place project. It has been designed so that “there is a high degree of control to act as theatre lighting for events”. The lighting will also change with the seasons, with a cooler light in summer and warmer lighting in winter.

Water harvesting design was also included in the project where all rainwater from paving is collected in a large underground tank and then used for irrigation.

The project also required the selection of “durable and robust materials and construction methods, including the granite paving (utilizing WA granite) and the precast concrete walls and seats”.

The Stratacell system fits well with what the project needed given the module’s extremely high compressive strength. It can sustain the weight of an ASV PT-50 multi terrain loader and has a 550kPA vertical load. Aside from having a very high strength capacity, the Stratacell modules are also recyclable and are manufactured from 100 per cent recycled polymer. As there are no steel components, the modules are corrosion free.

Plan E was quite happy with the system that it has been specified in other projects, including the Cambridge Streetscape, Perth City Link, and more.

“After the initial problem with drainage, and establishment of proper monitoring procedures, the trees are performing very well,” Baranowski said.

Frankston Creates Safer Walking Lanes

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Frankston Creates Safer Walking Lanes
By Kristyn Levis

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The City of Frankston in Victoria wanted to encourage its residents to walk more by providing a safe and aesthetically pleasing environment.

This goal was achieved through the Principal Pedestrian Network Demonstration (PPND), which was partially funded by the Department of Transport Planning and Local Infrastructure, and with the help of the CityGreen modular StrataCell system. Its aim is to promote walking as a means of transport and “providing suitable improved public amenity”.

The design phase started early 2013, with construction starting in February 2014 and completed in April 2014. The total project budget was $1,132,000. The Frankston City Council and Aspect Studios, in consultation with the local community and traders, developed the plan to “promote walking between key destinations and enhance exploration of Frankston’s central laneways”.

The route includes north – south pedestrian access to retail outlets including Bayside Shopping Centre, local traders and the Frankston Transit Interchange.

The design included new lighting, trees, new furniture and art components following the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design principles to enhance safety and avoid graffiti and neighbourhood waste.

Marti Fooks was the Frankston City Council project manager involved in the design phase up to the completion of the construction. She now works with Aspect Studios.

As a registered landscape architect, Fooks supported the use of Stratacells “to provide the optimum conditions for the trees to establish”.

“This was the first application of Stratacells in Frankston, demonstrating Frankton’s commitment to healthy trees in urban environments and hopefully paving a way for future projects,” she said.

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Fooks said the project “employed a range of innovative spatial design outcomes, suited to the site context that would make walking a more desirable experience”.

“Trees were a key aspect to the proposal in Park Lane as they completed a continuous avenue of green foliage and provided a screen to the unsightly car park behind,” she added.

Adrian Cadenazzi, project manager from 2Construct – the principal contractor engaged on the project, said they were only involved when the final design was in place.

“It was evident from speaking with the client and architect that to a large extent, the design was based around the Stratacell system, which was one of the main selling points to the council members during the planning stage,” he said.

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Fooks mentioned that there was some initial resistance to the use of Stratacells because of the additional cost to the project. But advocating for their use “was made easy with a cost benefit analysis as well as showing photos of the existing poor soil conditions”.

She said that the Frankston City Centre is in a floodplain and because of this, water logging can constrain the establishment of trees.

“Water logging will not only cause unhealthy trees, but tree failure is also very costly. Park Lane was no exception with heavily compacted clays reducing drainage and soil media to promote tree establishment,” Fooks said. “By using Stratacells we were able to provide the three new Platanus Acerfolia with more than 100m3 of growing media rather than only 8m3 per tree.”

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Cadenazzi said that the soil volume required for tree pits very much depends on the species of tree specified. Fooks agrees saying that soil volumes and qualities are absolutely crucial to the success of plants and trees in urban environments.

“In this instance, Plane trees were required which grow quickly and to a large size so soil volume needed to be extensive to support the growth. The system did provide enough volume while maintaining trafficable pavement above,” Cadenazzi said.

Like other similar projects, underground services were discovered during construction. They were in a slightly different alignment compared to the service proving information. Cadenazzi said the existing electrical services required “a slight reduction in the overall size of the system to avoid lengthy delays with relocating live power”.

“Of the different options such as bridging Stratacells, it was determined that to keep on track with the program the number of cells was reduced to four rows rather than five,” Fooks said.

“In consultation with Citygreen and Aspect studios, it was concluded that the reduction would not cause significant issues with supporting the growth of the trees,” Cadenazzi said.

Aside from underground services, Cadenazzi said the installation of the guy wires prior to placing the trees was “a tricky process requiring a combination of finesse and brute force”.

“Also, the trees themselves being 400L specimens, are cumbersome to handle and, having to work with limited room once the Stratacell system was installed, can make it a fiddly process,” he said.

However, installing the Stratacell system was itself a straightforward process. “We relied on the web video tutorials provided on the Citygreen website for guidance and these were extremely useful in having the entire process broken down step by step,” Cadenazzi said.

Fooks seconded this saying that the installation was “incredibly simple” and that the cells simply locked into place ready to be filled with soil media.

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With their experience on the Frankston project, Cadenazzi said that although they don’t get involved during the specifying and design stage, they have no hesitation in endorsing the Stratacell system.

“As the trees are deciduous and were planted in late autumn, they are currently dormant so it is too early to comment on the success. From a structural perspective, there have been no issues with pavement failure that we are aware of,” Cadenazzi said.

As an associate at Aspect Studios, Fooks said she would definitely consider the use of Stratacells where the project calls for it.

“Where a pedestrian or vehicle grade surface is required adjacent to trees, Stratacells are the best solution to provide soil underneath while holding up the finished surface,” Fooks said.

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In August 2013, Frankston City Mayor Sandra Mayer said she was very excited about the improvement given that the route down Park Lane and through the car park was not safe.

“These improvement works will ensure these pedestrian walkways are safe and easier to navigate. The urban art work and lighting elements will also brighten up the city at night time,” Mayor Mayer said.

Urban Tree Conflicts Solved in Bendigo

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Urban Tree Conflicts Solved in Bendigo
by Kristyn M. Levis

The Citygreen® modular Stratacell system® answered another urban development issue in a streetscape project for the City of Greater Bendigo, Victoria.

The Edward Street revamping is part of a bigger makeover of the area with the construction of the new $14.9 million car park on the same street. The 420-park complex opened in July 2012. The Landscape Architect for this project was Liesl Malan from Liesl Malan Landscape Architects.

Gary Lantzsch, landscape architect for the City of Greater Bendigo, said the Stratacells were placed on the Edward Street footpath around late 2012.

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“Carparks are not usually seen as attractive structures but the architect produced something special. We needed to create a street scape to complement it,” Lantzsch said.

He added that they wanted to trial the tree cell because Bendigo predominantly uses Plane trees and they tend to have a fairly invasive nature when it comes to infrastructure, pipes and gutters.

“We are noticing now after planting these trees in the city for the last 15 years that a lot of the paving is heaving along with kerb and channel and damage to other infrastructure,” Lantzsch said.

“We still want trees, of course, because we want a beautiful environment. We looked for a solution that would enable us to still use trees but at the same time limit the damage and protect our infrastructure.”

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Lantzsch said the Stratacell system was presented as a sound product in terms of research, logic, and the science behind it. “We wanted to protect infrastructure and provide optimum growing conditions, which this product offers.”

He added that they used some structural soil in the past and it was okay but had limited life before the invasiveness started to occur such as heaving. “Structural soil is good for trees with more passive root systems but trees like Planes can still cause heaving.”

Aside from the Stratacells, the project also used it in conjunction with anchors and root barriers. Root barriers are typically used to guide roots away from infrastructure The Citygreen root barriers include the ribbed modular units, ribbed linear material and also the dimpled and non-ribbed linear material.

Lantzsch said that aside from providing optimal growing conditions, the Stratacell system also offered several other benefits to the project.

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“It’s always tricky. You want to provide trees with as much root growth potential as possible but that can depend on the surrounding infrastructure. The beauty of the cells is that you can have services like pipes and telecommunications go through it and you can work around it,” he said.

The Stratacells, however, were such a good fit with the overall design that they have used it again on the $3.8 million redevelopment of Mitchell Street. The Edward Street project was the first time that they’ve used the Stratacells.

“It’s like Lego, very lightweight and very easy to use. They didn’t have much trouble with the installation,” Lantzsch said. “The cells are also much more cost effective when you factor in the cost of infrastructure damage without them.”

1166It’s unfortunate, however, that the Edward Street site has faced some vandalism issues since its completion.

“The trees would have looked great if not for the vandals snapping branches off. Some trees have been replaced and are now starting to look okay. There have been no issues with the cells after the project was finished.”

Lantzsch also said they experienced excellent after sales support from the company and they always received responses very quickly.

“When we explored the tree cells, Rod Gooden was there to ensure the soil mix was correct and to provide support to make sure we were doing it all properly. Arborgreen is fantastic to deal with. Very helpful and they provide excellent support,” he said.

Historic revitalisation of Main Street Markham with Stratacells

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Historic revitalisation of Main Street Markham with Stratacells
By Kristyn Levis

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A prominent roadway in the City of Markham, Ontario, Canada, has been redesigned using various products from Citygreen®.

The project, which started in 2012 and set to be completed this year, involved revitalising the historic downtown Markham with an estimated overall cost of $8 million.

The roadway, commonly known as Main Street Markham, is a well-known north-south roadway through the city, connecting Highway 407 in the south to Major Mackenzie Drive to the north.

Regan Hutcheson, the City’s Manager of Heritage Planning, provided valuable input to ensure that the streetscape design was sensitive to the heritage conservation district character. Dan Foong from the City of Markham was the project manager while Sally Campbell acted as the city’s urban designer.

“There are three distinct sections of Main Street and the reconstruction phasing was broken down into corresponding sections. At the heart of the overall project area located in the middle of the road corridor is Markham Village,” Campbell said.

She added that there has been a long history in planning for the enhancement of Markham Village. In 1999, the Main Street Markham Committee developed Main Street Markham: A Vision for the Millennium to address “the growing need to protect and enhance the historic Markham Village as a result of rapid growth in the City of Markham”.

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This was followed by the Main Street Markham Streetscape and Traffic Management Study in 2003. It recommended that developers look at the wishes of the community to transform the street from a vehicular dominated one to “one that better supports commercial activities in the core and respects and enhances the Markham Village heritage Conservation District”.

The Markham Transportation Planning Study in 2002 found that the current traffic volumes “warranted the widening of certain sections of Main Street Markham to four lanes whilst respecting the need to preserve the heritage character of the Markham Village section of the roadway”.

Citygreen’s range of products was a good fit in what the city was trying to achieve with the city space. Campbell said the “structural integrity of the Stratacell system® to sustain heavy loads supported by solid technical evidence coupled with comprehensive range of components to suit each situation” appealed to them, pushing them to choose Citygreen over its competitors.

“Citygreen’s representative did a great job of outlining the benefits of using Stratacell system over other soil cell systems. The city decided to go with Citygreen because it offered a complete system, such as cells, root barriers, tree grates, and irrigation system, versus just the cells. With other soil cell systems, we would still need to purchase all of the ancillary items,” Foong said.

The City’s team had relatively limited experience in the installation of soil cell systems within the municipal boulevard, but they have seen other systems used in the regional right of ways and in private developments with varying degrees of success.

They knew that in order for trees to sustain their health and growth potential to provide the most benefits, they needed as much room to grow as possible. They anticipated that the spaces available for trees in the boulevards and bump outs along Main Street Markham were crowded with above and below ground infrastructure and utilities.

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“We knew an innovative solution to provide sufficient soil volume was required,” Campbell said. “Having explored alternative methods of achieving the required soil volume, including an in-house tree pit design as well as other soil cell products, we opted for Citygreen’s product and saw benefits on the comprehensive system offered.”

“We appreciated excellent customer service and numerous presentations by the Citygreen representative to different departments within the City of Markham to explain the product.”

Foong said adequate soil volumes are extremely important to the health of urban trees and the Stratacells provided sufficient soil volumes. The local government have previously committed to planting more trees. To support this, the city produced a Streetscape Manual: Trees for Tomorrow in 2009, which contains technical requirements to support healthy tree growth.

All public and private trees planted in the city have to follow the standards in the manual. This includes achieving minimum 30 cubic metres of soil for a large stature tree, “which can be reduced if trees share the soil in a connected pit”.

“In the majority of cases along Main Street, the use of the Stratacells did help us attain the required soil volumes. In some instances, a smaller stature tree species was selected where other constraints meant that we could not achieve the optimum soil volumes even with the use of the cells,” Campbell said.

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During the project, it was determined that open decorative tree grates around the base of the trees was not a good setup for the area. It creates a potential trip hazard, and coffee shops and restaurants wanted to have the ability to place tables and chairs in the boulevard. Businesses were concerned the chair legs would go through the grates.

“Citygreen provided information about their paver grate product that allows for the surface pavers to be laid on top of the grate as close to the base of the tree as possible while allowing for growth. This application has proved very successful and provides a clean look and maximises the amount of useable space around the trees,” Campbell said.

Although the City will continue to select the most appropriate and cost effective solution to their future projects, based on their experience now, they are open to using Citygreen systems again.

Aside from the Stratacells, the Main Street Markham project also used Citygreen’s paver grates, reroot root barriers and rootrain irrigation system.

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