Our world is constantly evolving with the advancement of technology, the growing needs of global populations and depleting natural resources.

To adapt to these changes and secure the future for the next generation, we must embrace innovation in the way we live, work and play. This is where “Smart Precincts” enter the picture.

Rising as an emerging trend to cope with social, environmental and technological shifts, smart precincts are development projects that transform urban districts into thriving sustainable spaces through the use of forefront technology. It’s the future for cities across the globe.

Simply put, smart precincts serve as building blocks to creating smart cities which fully facilitate forward-focused technology to solve physical problems, improve the efficiency of city services and enhance the quality of life for all.

Here’s what you need to know.

What are Smart Precincts?

Most cities around the world strive to undergo progressive changes in order to become “smart” and reach their full potential. Although this is an ideal outcome, the process of rebuilding an entire city this way can be quite complex, expensive and time-consuming.

That old adage of “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” applies here.

By serving as manageable test sites for real urban innovation and modern trends, smart precincts are great alternatives. Even though they are not at a whole city scale, smart precincts are large enough to encompass multiple smart city domains and are a helpful point of reference to study future citywide investments.

These smart precincts are digitally enabled, mixed-use urban districts that combine the latest physical technologies and smart services with an overarching sustainability strategy. Fairness, diversity and privacy are also incorporated in their planning to complement the city’s goal of achieving better living conditions for every citizen.

As more smart precincts are created, people will start to appreciate them and their popularity will grow, along with their numbers until they start to transform an entire city.

Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project Concepts

How do you create a Smart Precinct?

To get the best outcome from smart precincts, development practices in urban places must employ intelligent data, the latest technologies and innovative project designs.

A good representation of this is The Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project in Queensland, Australia. Through the implementation of a holistic place-making framework and cutting-edge soil vault technology, they were able to create a streetscape that is vibrant, liveable and corresponds to the community’s goal of having healthier, greener spaces.

By implementing the latest smart city technologies, this project was Australia’s first smart precinct streetscape demonstration and testing site.

Smart bus stop in Singapore, built around Stratavault treepit

Smart Precinct case study: The Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project

Bulcock Street has been the main street of sunny Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast since 1917. Over a hundred years later, the street experienced a decline against the competing urban centres, big-box malls and online retail due to its deteriorating appearance.

In an effort to restore the road’s beauty, vibrancy and bustling community, the Sunshine Coast Council (SCC) worked on a $12 million four-stage street revitalisation project.

The project’s main objective was to create a people-oriented flexible street that would serve as a public space intended for events, businesses and other outdoor activities, all of which benefitted residents and visitors alike. This began with the much-loved shady fig trees dominating the 20-metre-wide street, which played a huge part in enticing people to Bulcock Street. However, the current tree population was at risk of being root-bound. Knowing this, the SCC planned on recreating the cooling shade by planting new trees.

Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project

Scott Howarth, Landscape Architect at SCC stated: “To ensure the project’s success, we instigated investment in underground tree health using Citygreen’s StrataVault system, specialist soil mixes and tree grow-on contracts.”

With this, 35 Elaeocarpus Obovatus trees were installed using the StrataVault system between 2016 and 2018. Over the following years, a further 105 extra trees were planted in the street. However, the Council observed that trees planted using StrataVault outperformed those which were not planted using this technology.

Bulcock Street Revitalisation Project

So, what was the final result of this project?

Sian Crawford, another Landscape Architect at SCC, said: “Eclectic in character, fun and colourful, the street has evolved into an alternative retail experience that appeals to all ages and is uniquely Caloundra. Retail outcomes support this, with Caloundra experiencing an increase in the total spending during the 2017/18 financial year of 8% above the 2016/17 results (equating to $39.3 million in extra trade). An overwhelming success, the project was nominated for the 2020 Queensland AILA Landscape Architecture Awards.”

How does Citygreen’s Stratavault contribute to Smart Precincts?

Climate change is one of the major elements that drive the establishment of smart precincts. These urban districts aim to utilise technology to reduce carbon emissions, eliminate activities that are harmful to the environment and protect natural resources such as rainwater.

Citygreen’s Stratavault technology contributes to this goal by facilitating the healthy growth of urban trees. By providing the right architecture of soil, it allows tree roots to propagate without causing any structural pavement damage. Moreover, it allows landscape architects, engineers and arborists to take advantage of a quality soil-volume product that has lower installation costs, minimal transport expense and durable material.

Through this, smart precincts can optimise the power of technology to achieve sustainability and better living conditions for the community.

Jurong Smart Bus Station – Singapore