Southern Green Team
01 Mar 2021
It has been 9 years since the completion of the Student Forum at Newcastle University, a project that was recognised with a Landscape Institute Award and a Lord Mayor’s Design Award.
Trees were critical to this urban space, and we have been watching their development with interest. The system that we used to support the healthy establishment of these trees was GreenBlue Urban’s StrataCell, which has a number of benefits:
- Supports high volume of vertical loads, such as pedestrian and traffic loads;
- Modular framework for strength and ease of assembling;
- Excess of 94% soil by volume to allow tree growth;
- Open skeletal structure allowing growth zone for roots and storm water harvesting;
- Provides aeration and space for common conduits.
Establishing a tree in an urban environment can be challenging. Often there is not enough room for roots to grow due to constrained tree pits. If the root zone is small, this can cause the roots to grow out of the space, where the roots can be strong enough to break paving and kerbs, causing the surface of the pavements to become uneven over time. In other cases the tree will simply not survive because the roots are constrained with insufficient access to the required soil volumes, water, nutrients and oxygen.
StrataCell tries to mirror the natural environment as much as possible keeping the space for the roots aerated. The reduction in compaction is also significant, especially with trees planted under pavements. GreenBlue Urban’s own studies have shown that using more compacted structural soil slows tree growth in comparison to those planted with StrataCells. Although the cost of this sort of system can be off-putting, providing optimum growing conditions for trees reduces the cost and upheaval of replanting trees that have failed due to inadequate growing conditions.
The trees at the Student Forum have been growing at a healthy steady rate, supported by appropriate landscape management and maintenance of the surrounding spaces. We are especially pleased to note that one particular tree has expanded in girth from 20cm to 60cm since first planted. We hope students and the public will continue enjoying this part of the space at the university and to see this scheme flourish further overtime.
For more information about StrataCell please click on this link: GreenBlue Urban.
To find out more about the project please click on this link: Student Forum.