25 March 2021

Coota's cutting-edge shade canopies a leading light

| Edwina Mason
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Partial artist's impression of a section of Cootamundra's beautification project.

An partial artist’s impression of a section of the Cootamundra beautification project, which includes four green funnels. Image: Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council.

Love ’em or hate ’em, an element of Cootamundra’s Parker Street beautification project is dividing opinions in the regional town, but one thing the residents can all agree upon – they’ll be a talking point for generations to come.

Urban canopies are quite the thing when it comes to international landscape design, especially in the public arena.

Various incarnations can be found in Marseille, Reims, Toulouse, Morocco and Arabia. But perhaps the best example is in Singapore, where these lightly foliaged architectural installations, known as supertrees, tower over the city’s 21st century botanical gardens, some up to 50 metres in height.

Supertree Grove in Singapore.

Towering canopies in Supertree Grove, one of the feature attractions at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. Photo: Supplied.

Now downtown Coota is stepping into the big league as four ‘urban canopees’ are erected along the town’s main street. Urban canopees isn’t a misspelling, but the name of a French firm which has cornered the market with its design of metal and composite landscape features that function in providing a living green canopy for public spaces.

The modular sculptural structures, called ‘green funnels’, which will be more tree-like in height compared to their enormous Singapore cousins, are being manufactured in Australia by the famous Furphy Foundry and are seen as a sustainable and resilient shade-providing garden feature.

In this respect, the town is leading the charge in Australia towards adoption of this cutting-edge solution, which essentially puts green where you can’t plant trees and thus transforms hot, built-up civil hardscapes into a thriving urban oasis.

With long-term weather forecasts indicating increasingly higher summer temperatures, urban canopies in all forms are set to become a feature of many of Australia’s cityscapes.

Capable of withstanding some of Australia’s harshest climates, each ‘green funnel’ can support up to three different climbing plant species, is self-sufficient and equipped with a solar panel, battery, water pump and smart irrigation system, and can be easily installed and relocated if required.

A supertree installation.

Cootamundra’s ‘green funnels’ will feature the highly fragrant evergreen climber white jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum). Image: Supplied.

Cootamundra’s awesome foursome will feature the highly fragrant evergreen climber white jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum).

The expected time for the jasmine to fully cover the canopies is approximately two to three years.

Fairy lights will also be installed on the structures to tie in with the lights already established in Parker Street’s trees.

Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council’s (CGRC) waste, parks and recreation services manager, Wayne Bennett, said once established the maintenance costs of the self-maintained ‘green funnels’ would be minimal.

“They water and fertilise automatically, are powered by solar panels and the technology will notify staff by Bluetooth when the water reservoir requires filling,” he said.

Two ‘green funnels’ have been constructed on the corner of Wallendoon Street and Parker Street in Cootamundra, while the other two have been constructed on the corner of Adams Street and Parker Street.

Artist impression of Cootamundra CBD beautification project.

The Cootamundra beautification project will include new garden beds and street gardens, street furniture, lighting, retaining walls, shelters and tree planting. Image: Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council.

Funded by the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Programme (DCP), the entire beautification project – which includes new garden beds and street gardens, street furniture, lighting, retaining walls, shelters and tree planting – is set to bring Cootamundra’s CBD to life.

CGRC Mayor Abb McAlister said the aim of the project is to beautify and enhance the experience of visiting Cootamundra’s CBD, and to create jobs and boost local shopping.

Part of the $1 million grant included additional works for Gundagai’s Sheridan Street, which has just undergone a massive $5 million makeover.

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Coota people should be proud of their main street. Like these funnels or hate them they will be stunning not only by day but night as well the only thing I am not convinced about is the choice of climber.The flowers are highly sented ahich is not good for Asiatics, also attract bees which is a danger.
A suggestion,what about an ornamental pear no flowers plenty of shade when needed and beautiful coloured leaves in autumn

Diane Pearton8:00 am 09 Apr 21

‘leading the charge in Australia towards adoption of this cutting-edge solution, which essentially puts green where you can’t plant trees’

Great idea where necessary, but in regional towns like Cootamundra, I do not understand why trees are not better solutions? One advantage we have in small towns is space. There are many small Eucalyptus trees that have been developed that are suitable and can be useful to our birds.

Australia’s landscape is unique, let’s embrace it, not europonise it?

Steve Shanahan6:26 am 02 Apr 21

The concept is great and probably necessary as the planet warms. However, jasmine is a terrible choice to cover these structures. I have a strong allergic reaction to the perfume of jasmine in flower, and I believe that this is not uncommon. Please consider other less noxious options.

My mum also has a very severe allergic reaction when exposed to jasmine! Terrible choice.

They seem to me to be a brilliant idea and should be installed wherever applicable. Easy care, dense shade that tells you when it needs attention seems to meet all criteria.
However I have a couple of notes .
1. Care should be taken when choosing the vines. My sister gets a severe headache from the perfume of jasmine and I am sure that she is not alone.
2. They would not be suitable for all townscapes. My town of Braidwood is a classified heritage town and therefore the green funnels would not be suitable, unfortunately.

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