St Clare’s Catholic High School gets a green upgrade
St Clare’s Catholic High School is a 7-12 co-educational community, located in Taree – a town on the mid North Coast of New South Wales. Originally founded in 1926, one of St Clare’s guiding principles is “never see a need without doing something about it.”
In 2018, the school saw a need to create new outdoor learning spaces for their students. The Catholic Schools Office (CSO), Maitland Newcastle, commissioned the construction of a new learning centre, together with a modification of the existing library into a flexible resource centre.
As part of the upgrade, Citygreen was engaged to enhance the areas with urban trees and much needed shade. In this case study, we explore how Citygreen worked with landscape architects, contractors and stakeholders to transform these spaces using Stratavault technology.
Project goals and vision
Prior to works commencing, the outdoor spaces at St Clare’s were heavily hardscaped. They lacked vibrance, greenery and character, and were not being used to full effect. As Kate Hopoi from Terras Landscape Architects said, “The existing site was typical of a school environment with extensive hard paved areas between buildings with limited seating and shade.”
The goals for this project were two-pronged – to create lively external learning areas to complement St Clare’s indoor facilities, and to green the new outdoor spaces with healthy trees and shaded seating for students to enjoy.
Project execution and challenges
The vision was largely executed by Terras Landscape Architects, who were engaged by Austin McFarlane Architects to manage the landscape design elements. The scope of Terras’ work included design and documentation of the main courtyard, plus documentation of the external learning area, amphitheatre and street landscaping.
Terras were supported by Great Gardens Landscaping Contractors, who performed the installation, paving and landscaping using Citygreen’s Stratavault technology.
Stratavault soil modules were applied in three configurations, each comprised of up to four layers. A 750mm tree pit and grille were used in areas where space permitted. For smaller areas, a linear tree pit and grille provided a more compact solution.
Stratavault was chosen for its open structure and huge growth zone, which provides plenty of soil volume and space for delicate root systems to flourish. With more than 94% of soil volume allocated for tree root growth, Stratavault creates optimum conditions for long-term healthy growth. Given the heavily paved environment at St Clare’s, this was a key priority.
Of working with Citygreen, Kate from Terras Landscape Architects said, “Terras appreciates Citygreen’s involvement in providing the best possible solution to give the trees the greatest chance to thrive.”
“The Citygreen team were always happy to help with product enquiries and selections. They were great at keeping us up to date with progress photos throughout the project.”
Since being completed at the end of 2018, the new outdoor learning areas have enhanced the function and aesthetic of St Clare’s, providing new options for learning and leisure. The eight
Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia) trees have established well in the Stratavault system and are already developing healthy canopies.
“An inspiring variety of outdoor spaces have been created interspersed with circulation, seating and shade, which will develop over the years to come”, said Kate from Terras Landscape Architects.