The Levee mall in Maitland revived with healthy street trees
Formerly known as the Heritage Mall, The Levee mall in Maitland has been refurbished to stunning effect, thanks to healthy street trees and new infrastructure.
Originally constructed in the 1980’s, the mall underwent a partial refurbishment in the early 2000’s. However, despite this previous makeover, it quickly became dated and dormant. For more than a decade, the mall struggled to compete against suburban shopping centres, which boasted sleeker finishes and more modern amenities.
As Aaron Cook, Senior Project Architect in the Infrastructure and Works team at Maitland City Council explained, “The mall was dated aesthetically. Clay pavers were failing, tree planting was unsuccessful, and the street was cluttered with various physical elements that had been introduced throughout the former life of the mall.”
Today, however, The Levee is a lively space, loved by the local community. In this case study, we explore the transformation of this historic site, and how Citygreen worked with key stakeholders to bring it back to life.
Project goals and vision
The primary goal for this project was to maximise the value of the Maitland site, making it a destination for shopping and socialising. Project designers, McGregor Coxall, outlined the project scope on their website:
“Our masterplan utilised urbanism strategies to revive the local economy by repositioning Central Maitland as a leisure-based retail activity centre supported by a night time local produce and wine economy. As project team leader we were commissioned to implement our regeneration plan to convert the former outdoor pedestrian Mall into a new High Street, a WiFi connected shared zone and active public realm.”
Citygreen’s role in the rejuvenation was to provide sustainable solutions and advice around the planting of healthy trees in a new, trafficable stone paved street. This included assisting with complex pavement design considerations and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) concepts.
Stratacell soil cells provides structure and strength
Considering the failure of previous street trees at the site, it was important for the City to find a system that could produce sustainable green canopies. After reviewing various products and consulting with the Citygreen team, the Stratacell soil system was chosen as the most suitable solution. As well as having a proven track record of success in similar projects, Stratacell was chosen for several other reasons:
- Strength: Stratacell modules are crush tested during manufacturing and are 3 x stronger than any other product – critical in this case, as trees would be growing in a shared space with vehicular over run.
- Structural integrity: Stratacell modules have the highest structural integrity of any large soil cell. They connect seamlessly to form a matrix, ensuring loads are distributed evenly.
- Soil volume: Stratacell provides over 94% of total soil volume for tree-root growth, giving trees the best possible chance of thriving.
- Sustainability: Stratacell modules are made using 100% recycled polypropylene, so they deliver maximum environmental benefit.
- Durability: Despite their incredible strength, Stratacell modules contain no steel components, meaning there’s nothing that can rust or corrode – important for the longevity of The Levee.
- Efficiency: With assembly times of approximately 2 minutes per m³, Stratacell is incredible fast and efficient to install.
Working together to deliver Water Sensitive Urban Design
In addition to providing the Stratacell system to support the growth of healthy trees – in this case Cupaniopsis Anacardioides (Tuckeroo) – Citygreen worked closely with Maitland City Council and McGregor Coxall to deliver on WSUD requirements.
The innovative design of the project allows for sustainable harvesting of stormwater, collected from inlet pits set into the stone pavement. Stormwater is piped into the loam soil tree vault, located beneath the trafficable pavement. This provides passive irrigation of the trees. It also aids in pollutant removal and management of water flows.
Aaron Cook from Maitland City Council confirmed that Citygreen’s guidance was pivotal to the design process, adding that Council and the project design team had “a successful working relationship with Citygreen throughout the design and documentation process.”
Since its completion in January 2015, The Levee has been highly successful in meeting desired projects outcomes. The new design contrasts high-tech elements, like WiFi and LED street lighting, with a flexible grand heritage fabric. New street furniture and infrastructure make the site perfect for hosting festivals and events, which in turn support the local economy.
Contrary to the previous tree planting efforts, the Tuckeroo are thriving in Citygreen’s Stratacell modules, providing shade, colour and character. Aaron Cook from Council agrees, saying “the street trees are healthy and growing at an appropriate rate.”