Completed in early 2018 in Townsville, Australia, Innovation House 2.0 is a cutting-edge display home featuring the latest building innovations. Aiming to challenge the ‘how it’s always been done’ mindset, the home showcases pioneering solutions in technology, design, health, energy and water management. Empowering informed choices on the design, build and ongoing lifestyle costs of new homes, it enables families to see, touch and smell new technology in person.
Just as important as the home itself is the landscape that surrounds it. E2Designlab – renowned specialists in engineering, urban design and ecology – were engaged in the design of water sustainability initiatives for the home’s garden. Sally Boer, Director of E2Designlab, said, “With long dry periods often experienced in Townsville, the goal was to sustain a healthy shade tree and lush green lawn without the need for irrigation with potable water. We designed an innovative self-watering tree and self-watering lawn incorporating wicking bed technology which uses rainwater to sustain these landscape features in a way that can be applied by residents at a single lot scale. These solutions also overcame the challenging soil conditions on the site.
“The feature tree was placed within an outdoor entertaining area surrounded by slab footings and decking, so was restricted in terms of soil volume and root space. Stratavault, Citygreen’s innovative structural cell system, acts as a structural support mechanism for the deck and provides a high volume of uncompacted topsoil for healthy tree growth. Additionally, its open cell structure enabled pipes to be installed within the matrix, incorporating the necessary inflow pre-treatment filter, underdrainage and overflow systems for stormwater irrigation. The increased soil moisture, from a redirected downpipe, and the air space between the soil surface and the underside of the deck create ideal growing conditions for the tree, enabling it to shade and cool the sought-after deck area. The Stratavault system is also likely to improve tree stability once the tree roots are established.
“Innovation House 2.0 provides an exemplar example of sustainable technologies that can be incorporated into homes and on-lot. Anecdotally, we hear that the passively watered tree is growing well, sustained by the roof water. The tree also experienced a faster growth rate than other trees in the vicinity, which is likely due to the improved soil conditions (both soil volume and soil moisture).
“Citygreen products open up opportunities for achieving appropriate soil volumes and moisture for trees in locations that otherwise would not be possible. The Stratavault system enables the soil volume to be extended out and under pavements such that trees can have the opportunity to grow to their full potential and provide back to the community important shade, cooling and visual amenity. This approach also overcomes the issue of roots lifting and damaging pathways and other infrastructure which occurs when roots are constrained in compacted dry soils.”