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.
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.
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.
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.