Creating a healthy, vibrant, human-centered streetscape in the heart of the Glen Waverley Activity Centre
Redeveloping a major area in an already established activity centre presented various challenges, including trying to create canopy cover and softening the streetscape while working with a myriad of existing service structures.
The O’Sullivan Road Streetscape Project aims to create a pedestrian focused central street as part of a larger partnership project between the City of Monash and a number of developers involved with constructing major new retail and residential developments.
As James Anderson, Project Manager and Director for Normark Landscapes Pty Ltd explains, this was no small consideration.
“There was every service known to man running through there. There was high voltage, stormwater, sewer, fire service, water, literally everything.”
With so many services in place, adding a significant number of trees required a solution that eliminated risks involved with tree roots interfering with services.
Creating corridors for root development with Stratavault
Chamantha Rajapaksa, Project Manager for Bitu-mill Pty Ltd outlines some of the issues they’ve seen in the past where this wasn’t managed effectively, and how Stratavault eliminated that potential.
“It’s actually a good system, because you can give the tree roots a corridor to grow in a way that you want it to go. We do road construction all the time. We’ve had issues where tree roots have wrapped completely around a gas main or a water main, so that if somebody would pull up the tree it would damage utilities.”
With 11 trees being added, a significant part of O’Sullivan Road had to be excavated and instead of using individual tree pits, the decision was made to use the Stratavault product to create a series of linear trenches.
Sandra Smith from the City of Monash explained the decision further, saying
“The reason we chose to go this way is we wanted to maximize the available soil volume for the trees, which were reasonably closely spaced, as opposed to the individual pits for efficiency of construction to give at least a linear corridor for the root development within the constraints of existing services.”
The Stratavault also provided additional benefits, allowing Bitu-mill to just box around the services and create the trenches. They combined the vault system with permeable paving around the trees, helping water the trees effectively with natural rainfall.
With many different stakeholders, including the City of Monash, developers, builders, architects and more, Citygreen were able to simplify the installation and assurance process for the patented Stratavault product.
The assembly was easier than expected
Normark Project Manager James Anderson has used it before and will again, saying
“There was flexibility there. It was easy to install. We enjoyed installing it. I’ve already installed it before. I’ll obviously install it again, so big tick from us.”
While Bitu-Mill were using it for the first time. To make it easy, they included a Citygreen training video as part of their induction process to show how it’s done. And easy it was, with Chamantha highlighting it “was just like assembling Lego, which is very, very, very easy to install.”
The ease of use and the results have the City of Monash and Bitu-mill determined to include Stratavault in future stages of O’Sullivan Road.
In the middle of winter, the trees continue to thrive. Talking to Citygreen about the project recently, Chamantha Rajapaksa, Project Manager for Bitu-mill Pty Ltd outlined just how successful the tree solution has been saying;
“The trees, they are thriving. It’s the best tree growth I’ve seen in the City of Monash… and the Council has expressed extreme satisfaction with how they trees are growing… they want to continue the tree vauly system for the rest of O’Sullivan Road from what I hear.”
Government highly supportive of sustainable outcomes
The O’Sullivan Streetscape Project was an opportunity for the City of Monash to put Stratavault to the test, but there were a lot of considerations before including it in the project to begin with.
Sandra Smith was keen to get the various developers on board with using the Stratavault system having seen the benefits in other projects, saying
“We’ve had firsthand experience of the success of the product system in delivering a more reliable establishment of the trees, drought resistance, and improved long term health and performance of the tree canopy in an urbanised environment. We knew this system should be continued as the business as usual approach for O’Sullivan Road.”
Stratavault being made entirely of 100% recycled plastics there is a broader benefit to its inclusion
Part of the attraction was about the desire of Local Government to support local businesses and sustainable outcomes and with the Stratavault being made entirely of 100% recycled plastics there is a broader benefit to its inclusion. Sandra sees Councils as key players that can really support local industry and sustainable initiatives through their procurement decisions.
There was some consideration of finding a cheaper alternative but looking at the full lifecycle cost made a big difference. By using the linear trenches of Stratavaults combined with permeable pavers, Council expects the benefits to be long lasting, alleviating long term maintenance requirements.
“We don’t expect to have to come back and install replacements. We anticipate that we will get a very successful tree canopy that will provide welcome shade, offsetting the urban heat island effect, particularly within the context of the high-density development that’s being created within the activity centre. The canopy will also create a softening, greening and human scale in an otherwise hard urban setting. Deciduous trees were selected to allow for winter sun and summer shade, giving that sense of seasonal change, which I think is something that’s quite special to life in Melbourne.”
Citygreen and Stratavault, making it easier to transform grey spaces into green
One of the key things that helped this project get the best possible outcomes for their trees was the highly responsive, incredibly determined team at Citygreen. The design studio gave Council the ability to work through a range of solutions to find the right balance between budgetary needs and long-term sustainability.
Sandra called out the difference it made, saying
“Our experience, in working with a Citygreen Design Studio was second to none. We found responses from the design studio to be very timely, and technically thorough. We went backwards and forwards a number of times, looking at different iterations of the design and, nothing was too much trouble to examine and explore different possibilities. I would highly recommend the Citygreen Design Studio to any future client considering using your services.”
A 100% recycled solution, a design team that works closely with all key stakeholders to get the best outcomes, and an industry leading product which is incredibly easy to install all contributing to creating a healthy, vibrant, human-centred streetscape in the middle of a thriving urban activity centre.