The Mondo – Penrith Civic Arts Precinct transformed with urban trees
The Mondo, a high-profile space at the Penrith Civic Arts Precinct, has been cleverly reimagined to create shade, reduce maintenance, and provide a contemporary setting for community use.
Situated at the busy intersection between Westfield Penrith, the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and the Penrith Civic Centre, the Mondo has always been a high traffic area. However, before it’s recent rejuvenation, the site proved difficult to maintain. The worn-down, natural grass created a dust bowl effect, making it hard to keep clean. In addition, a lack of seating, shade and character meant the area was mostly unusable.
When plans to refresh the site began in 2015, Penrith City Council had several goals:
- To enhance greenery
- To reduce site maintenance
- To increase safety and minimise vandalism
- To apply water sensitive urban design (WSUD)
- To create a stronger sense of place
Karin Schicht, Landscape Architecture Supervisor at Penrith City Council, said “Our main goal for the Mondo was to make it a destination for community. The previous site was very plain, with only two mature trees and worn-down grass. We wanted to maximise the potential of this high-profile space, making it more practical, aesthetically pleasing and easier to maintain. The vision was to create a green look using water sensitive urban design best practices, and to enhance the area with art, lighting and seating”.
Image of the site before the project
This vision was achieved using Citygreen’s Stratavault soil cell system, which was chosen for its strength, durability and practicality. Stratavault soil cells snap together quickly, allowing for major reductions in time and cost when it comes to installation. The Mondo project consists of Stratavault soil cells combined with Strataflow – advanced harvest watering tree pits, which intercept runoff via strip drains connected to tree vaults beneath the surface. Citygreen’s Duraplate II tree grille systems were also used to provide a distinctive decorative finish.
In terms of the trees chosen for the Mondo, a combination of eight large stock Fraxinus Urbanite and Pyrus Ussuriensus were planted for high initial impact. As well as adding instant lushness and coverage, these trees were selected for their ability to increase shade and solar access, and for their reliability in urban environments.
Acknowledging that natural grass would never withstand heavy use in the area, Council decided to replace the old, worn grass with a combination of patterned concrete and synthetic grass. There were some challenges with respect to finishes. Specifically, how the concrete and synthetic grass would successfully sit on top of the Stratavault soil cells without settlement – and without causing trip hazards. Citygreen collaborated with landscape contractors and Council throughout the project to ensure confidence and a seamless finish.
“Citygreen were extremely helpful with technical assistance. Customer service was outstanding and the team’s commitment to quality was excellent”, said Karin of Council. “Following the installation, Citygreen drafted a detailed maintenance manual explaining how to maintain the plants and what to look for”, she added.
“The trees are in flower now – growing well and looking great. With the additional of modern street furniture and local art, what was essentially a blank canvas has been transformed into a successful, vibrant and active public environment”.
Images courtesy of Karin Schicht at Penrith City Council