How Citygreen’s Stratacell system transformed Maitland’s historic Levee Mall
The Levee Mall, formerly known as the historic Heritage Mall, was the most challenging project undertaken by Maitland City Council.
After almost 30 years of struggling to keep up with the modern suburban shopping centre scene, it was finally decided that the mall would undergo redevelopment in 2018. This plan involved integrating healthy trees into the street design while maintaining the historical value of the centre.
“The street features a large number of significant heritage buildings from various eras throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, trees were strategically located in front of buildings with a lower heritage value to form an aesthetic balance,” Aaron Cook, Operations Manager Projects & Contracts of Maitland City Council, stated.
Citygreen’s Stratacell ™ system was identified by Adrian McGregor, the Senior Landscape Architect and Founding Principal of McGregor Coxall, as the best solution to support the health of these trees within the paved pedestrian and vehicular environment. This approach was taken to enhance the overall structure of the pedestrian zone and shopping mall while adding greenery and natural scenery.
The Citygreen team joined this project to contribute to its overall success.
Levee Mall: The Redevelopment Project goals
Citygreen’s main goal for this project was to maximise the value of the Maitland site to transform it into a highly desirable destination for both shopping and socialising.
The other objectives were to:
- provide sustainable solutions and advice around the planting of healthy trees in a new, trafficable stone-paved street
- increase the number of street trees within the refurbished mall, and
- assist with complex pavement design considerations and Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) concepts.
Adrian McGregor added, “Our master plan was to utilise urbanism strategies to revive the place. Supported by the local produce and wine economy, we aimed to reposition Central Maitland as a leisure-based retail activity centre for all the local communities. 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. It was a very exciting project.”
The Maitland City Council determined that trees did not grow well in compacted soils like structural soil, posing a problem for the redevelopment plan from the very start.
Aaron said, “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.”
He also added, “Prior to the refurbishment, existing trees were suffering from compacted soils in a fully paved environment.”
Fortunately, the Citygreen team had a plan to overcome this challenge and deliver the results that the Council were looking for.
Considering the difficulties previous street trees were having at the site, it was important to find a system that could produce sustainable green canopies, encourage healthy growth and protect local structures.
After reviewing various products and consulting with the Citygreen team, the Citygreen Stratacell™ soil system was chosen as the most suitable solution to ensure the selected indigenous Tuckeroo trees (Cupaniopsis anacardiodies) thrived.
Aside from having a proven track record of success in similar projects, Stratacell™ was chosen for several additional reasons such as:
- Stratacell™ modules are crush tested during manufacturing and are 3x stronger than any other product, which is critical in this case as trees would be growing in a shared space with vehicular overrun.
- Stratacell™ modules have the highest structural integrity of any large soil cell. They connect seamlessly to form a matrix, ensuring loads are distributed evenly.
- This system is sustainably made using 100% recycled polypropylene, so they are an environmentally-friendly choice.
- Despite their incredible strength, Stratacell™ modules contain no steel components, meaning there is nothing that can rust or corrode – which was a critical factor for the longevity of The Levee project.
Citygreen’s Stratacell™ system has seen positive outcomes in contrast to the previous tree planting efforts on the site in the past. Besides supporting healthy street tree growth, Citygreen’s Stratacell™ modules have helped to preserve the centre’s historical value by enhancing Levee Mall’s rich history and visual aesthetics.
It has been a few years since the project’s completion, and the Tuckeroo trees are thriving, providing shade, colour and charm.
“The street trees are healthy and growing at an appropriate rate,” Glen Thorley, the Coordinator of Tree and Recreation Works of Maitland City Council stated. “It has been a great success.”
These indigenous tree species have also reflected the character of the region, provided a good habitat for local fauna and offered shade and protection across all of the public areas. The project also took heritage significance into account by showcasing the aesthetics that contribute to the street’s overall culture.
At Citygreen, our wide range of innovative urban landscape products like the Stratacell™ system can transform your communities to be greener, healthier and more sustainable too.
Speak to us today so our team can discuss how we can enhance your urban space into a greener and more thriving place, just like the Levee Mall in Maitland.