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Can you imagine a 110-metre-high apartment complex with the walls covered in 100,000 native & exotic plants? Well it is about to happen at One Central Park, the new retail/residential area called Central Park at Broadway in Chippendale due to be completed in 2013.
An article in the Sydney Morning Herald said the building complex will have, “two dozen ”green wall” panels, some as high as 16-storeys, which will be attached to the north & south facades of the development’s east & west towers facing Broadway.”
“Species include varieties of red, pink and purple bougainvillea, dwarf bottle brushes, with deep-red flowers, and vine species with flowers in whites, reds, yellows and purples.”
As well as the 24 vertical green walls there will be 2,700 planter boxes attached to the unit balconies. Levels 29-33 of the east tower will have a Sky Garden that juts out & hovers in the air. There is a 1.5-minute video connected with the article. http://bit.ly/NTfR0P
The Central Park complex will also have a public park, “approximately 6,500 square metres & will span 115-metres in length & 50-metres in width, in a rectangular shape.” It will have cycle way, a pedestrian boulevard, a large water feature & public art. You can read more about this here – http://bit.ly/O3FBS0
The City of Sydney Council is currently setting up a Green Roofs & Walls Strategy. This tells me they have great plans to incorporate these green initiatives into new developments as part of their overall plan to green the city & suburbs that make up the City of Sydney LGA.
When I read what the City of Sydney is planning for greening the city & suburbs, I feel happy as this is my city too & I do have an emotional investment. I also wish that the City of Sydney’s attitude to innovative strategies for greening the environment flows through to my own Council. I hope that the new developments that will be springing up throughout Marrickville municipality will have visible green features & an emphasis on making people-friendly places.
The following beautiful & evocative poem was posted to my Facebook page by Ramapriya Ramanuja Dasi. She wrote, “This is what inspired me to write this poem. Whenever I visit Sydney I try to imagine what it would have been like, where the wet sclerophyll gullies would have been & where the casurina would have given way to saltmarsh & where the dryer sandstone ridges would have had scribbly gums & grass trees studded upon them . . .”
I am grateful to Ramapriya for allowing me to share her poem here.
White Woman Dreaming
by Ramapriya Ramanuja Dasi
I dream of being there that wonderful dawn
at Farm Cove in “New Sydney Town”
The Kookaburras calling where the “Toaster” now stands,
the Rockwarblers “kissing” among boulders further down
At the “Rocks” Scribbly Gums were full of Varied Sitellas
while below all the convicted women and fellas
were stunned as, ne’er in their lives had heard
such magic as the mimicry of the Superb Lyrebird
Where the AMP building stands tall today
the Gymea Lilies and Banksias once held their sway
on the bush floor the Scrubwrens would “chit chit” and play
and in treetops Koalas still napped all the day
I imagine the cool of the fern lined Tank Stream
and Fig trees and Blackbutts where Bell Miners chime
made a pleasant backdrop for the local Bowerbird’s lair
yes, the Regent, who dwelt there that time
The entrancing magic of the new dawn chorus
revealed countless species yet to be named all before us
The Parma Wallabies dashed around lower George Street
where the Cadigal people you would perchance meet
If you happened to wander up to Martin Place
you might have met more folk from that other race
not foolishly proud, just getting by as best
as one would imagine in this giant virgin forest
I dream of being there in “New Sydney Town”
where no steel had yet touched a tree
and Musk Lorikeets wheeled o’er Elizabeth Street
making vivid displays as they called happily
Topknot Pigeon flocks, hundreds strong, made an incredible sight
over what is now choked with traffic by day and all night
and whereupon Australia Square can be found
the Grey Kangaroo mobs used to abound
All along Pitt Street where the gums were in blossom
every hollow contained a small glider or possum
and the spotted quolls still reigned predatory supreme
or perhaps a goanna on the banks of the long lost Tank Stream
I dream of that time in “New Sydney Town”
every time that I stroll ’round the Quay
of a morning’s delight when Golden Whistler calls
announced their challenge from every tree
But then the new noises replace those old lost calls
and the Tank Stream no longer tumbles and falls
between green mossy boulder and pleasant cool glade
as all I can see is now mostly man made
My vision has faded to newer women and fellas
all prisoners now of employers, gadgets, auto tellers
with ne’er a moment to dream or perchance cogitate
on a magic morn lost in time: January 27, 1788
A few weeks ago we went to the CBD to see a green wall. It is at the new 29 storey, 43,419 square metre Cbus tower at 1 Bligh Street Sydney. The wall was receiving the finishing touches when we visited so I was lucky enough to have aspects of the wall & how it is managed explained to me by the builders. They were very proud of their work & deservedly so.
The living green wall is likely the best & largest that we have in Australia at present. I haven’t seen anything like this before. It is stunning to say the least & once fully-grown will be even better. I predict this green wall will be a tourist attraction at least until green walls become the norm. I hope that time arrives soon because the benefits are great.
The wall itself is 9.7-metres high & 40-metres long. It is watered by black water generated from the Cbus tower & has a system of pumps incorporated into small cupboard rooms hidden as part of the wall. The doors are almost invisible once they are closed. I guess there will be subtle clues as to where the handles & keyholes will be, but unless you knew there are doors here, you wouldn’t know.
The plants are wild tropical water-loving plants. They are planted into boxes made up of geo-textile & filled with exceptionally light potting mix & polystyrene balls. These boxes are fixed to the wall & the plants planted into small cuts into the material. They naturally grow roots inside the potting material & some also on the exterior of the geo-textile itself.
Apart from being very beautiful to look at, the air around the green wall is cool & likely full of negative ions. It has been made into a place where one can get the benefits of being in a park with running water while being in the busy CBD. It’s a great area to eat lunch. I was surprised to see a couple of butterflies flitting around exploring. Somehow insects know.
The 42,000-square metre Cbus tower itself is a fantastic achievement with its sustainability features. It has been built to world’s best practice 6-Star Green Star rating & a 5-Star Australian Building Greenhouse Rating (5 Star NABERS Energy). The designers were German company ‘Ingenhoven Architekten’ & Australian company ‘Architectus.’
The north-facing building has a double-glazed all-glass façade, thereby utilizing natural light. Inside the double skins are adjustable horizontal blinds that work by automatically shading the internal skin & preventing solar heat gain & keep the building cool. The 2.85-metre ceiling height of each level also promotes natural airflow. An artistic aluminum curtain protects the building from the western sun.
All water used in the tower will be recycled for use elsewhere on the property. Recycled black water is used for toilets. If needed, they can tap into the city’s black water supplies. The green wall & other landscaping features are watered by collected rainwater. The building will be heated by a tri-generation system using gas for cooling, heating & electricity as well as solar panels.
The atrium is the tallest in Australia & reaches the full height of the building (29 storeys) bringing fresh air to the upper levels. There is an internal ‘winter garden,’ plus an external 375-square metre terrace. A 700-square metre ‘sky garden’ crowns the building. The sky garden is shielded from the wind by a 10-metre glass wall. There are also numerous living internal landscaping features throughout the building. Apart from the usual underground parking for cars, there is also covered parking for 300 bicycles.
What a building! Hopefully this will become the norm. It is a mighty achievement for sustainability & creating the least possible impact on the environment. It also shows what is possible & how we can change the way we build & manage buildings. I love it & can’t wait until I have an opportunity to go inside.
I made a short video of the living green wall – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc_c37HtBbk
& the Cbus Building here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jSIwj70a9E
If you want to know how to make your own green wall, this short YouTube video explains how it is done – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp8YyQqVTSI&NR=1
Today is World Environment Day. Sydney put on a beautiful sunny winter’s day for the 8,000 people who attended the Say “Yes” to Climate Action Rally in Prince Alfred Park Sydney today. Even as speeches were ending, hundreds of people were still arriving walking from Central Railway Station. The crowd was made up of young & old. Promoted as a family-friendly day out, there were also many babies & young children.
Two young people were the main speakers. They both gave great, impassioned speeches about the threat of climate change to Australia, the world, their future & the future of their own children & grandchildren. The crowd also sung happy birthday to a 92-year-old woman who said we must do something now to tackle global warming.
The mood of the crowd was very peaceful, accommodating, friendly & resolute – action about climate change needs to happen immediately.
To see more I made a YouTube video of the event here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5Ld0q4xwSQ
About 3 kms from Sydney’s CBD is a glorious emerald jewel called Sydney Park. If you live in the Inner West & own a dog you probably go there often because it is leash-free & offers an incredible amount of room for dogs to run themselves into happy exhaustion. There are even water bowls for dogs to have a pit-stop drink. I knew of Sydney Park’s existence, though I had no idea just how wonderful this park is. My impression over the years was garnered by what I
could see as I drove along Sydney Park Road in St Peters – a lot of trees near the road, the old brickworks buildings & an enormous grass hill that I didn’t feel like climbing. Then I read an article in the Inner West Courier in 2009 about the killing of a black swan by a dog. Black swan……in Sydney? This enormously sad news item & the subsequent letters from the community was the prompt I needed to finally visit.
That first visit in 2010 is something I will not forget. We stood at the bottom of the park at the Harber Street entrance & surveyed an enormous park with multiple lakes, masses of normal-shaped large trees, patches of woodland & birds everywhere. We were hooked. How had this wonderful place been unknown to us for so many years? If you haven’t been, you must go at least once. I doubt it will be your last visit.
Okay there are hills, but most are easily walked. Many people run up them. Wide bitumen footpaths meander through the park. If a hill seems too much for today you can easily head in another direction. The bulk of the park is wheelchair accessible though better if you have someone who can help you up those hills if needed. Prams are a cinch. There is an ‘all-abilities’ playground, accessible toilets & a kiosk, though I haven’t seen these yet.
The 44-hectares of Sydney Park is less than 20-years-old & was built on a former clay extraction & waste disposal site. It is a prime example of how industrial & landfill land can be turned into something beautiful. It was created by the City of Sydney Council who continue to manage it. They not only have created something that is beautiful & entirely useful for the current population, but everything they are doing is creating something for our children’s children & beyond. I don’t know how many Fig trees the City of Sydney Council have planted, but I’d guess at least 200 trees. I’ll have to find out. The Figs are planted reasonably close to each other to create a continuous canopy when grown & to provide shade. They are all young, but in 2-3 decades time, these Fig trees are going to provide phenomenal beauty. Just imagine how lovely this park will look in 100-years time.
Sydney Park has tree precincts. There is the Palm area, the Grevillea woodland, the Tea tree & Callistemon woodland, the Eucalypt woodland, the Casuarinas woodland, the Acacia woodland & so on. We have not seen all the park as yet so there is bound to be more woodland areas. Trees within the park are used to great effect to screen neighbouring factories & surrounding roads. There is no philosophy of maintaining sightlines into this park. Sydney Park is an oasis & provides refuge from busy city living. As much as possible, the noise of busy Princes Highway & surrounding main roads has been kept out, both visually & audibly.
Not only is it a place of beauty, but Sydney Park also functions as a stormwater collection & filtration site. Stormwater from surrounding suburbs comes to a large holding pool where it is filtered & sent on to the first of 5 fairly large lakes. From there it is filtered into the next lake & so on, until it finally filters through the ground into the watertable. The lakes provide 5-star habitat for a wide range of water birds, including migrating birds & Spoonbills.
There are birds everywhere in Sydney Park & they are both wary & curious of people which means you can have a good look at them, but not touch. City of Sydney Council has almost completed fencing the lakes to prevent another dog attack. Wooden poles attached to the cyclone fencing have made the fences look beautiful & a part of the landscape as well as being functional. This is just one example of how artistic, but functional design has been used in Sydney Park. Nothing here is ordinary in my opinion. Everything has been done with beauty in mind & to provide food & habitat to urban wildlife.
There are a number of swales that take stormwater from the park itself into the lakes. We last visited while it was raining & it was easy to see the design that had been implemented to capture runoff down the hills. Much had been directed into woodland & garden areas & the remainder channeled to meet up with bio-swales that took the water to the lakes. To prevent soil erosion, great long snakes of coir encased in rope were laid around garden beds or in front of vulnerable trees. Some of the pathways are permeable.
While there are areas of lawn for informal ball games, City of Sydney Council have not created yet another park that is essentially paths & lawn surrounded by trees around the periphery & a few along pathways. They have recognized that people want & need shade & desire areas to sit where they can be in the shade. There is not a Crepe myrtle to be seen. They have planted a range of bird-attracting trees & shrubs making this park useful to urban wildlife & there are many areas where it is difficult for people to enter allowing wildlife to have safe habitat.
Much of what has been done in Sydney Park could also be done along the Cooks River. If it were, it’s likely that a greater range of water birds would live along the river. Poles have even been sunk upright into one of the lakes to allow birds to perch as well as making an artistic statement for humans. Trees have side branches offering other places to perch. Few plants are ornamental only. While there are grasses around the lakes, grasses are not the main feature of any planting. Even groundcover is of the type that produces food for small birds. There is loads of colour from flowering trees & shrubs & this will change seasonally. The ground is healthy as there were a range of gorgeous mushrooms & toadstools growing after the rain.
I am in love with Sydney Park. It would have been expensive for City of Sydney Council to create, but this is money well spent & the park is going to only get better as it matures.
There are other features, such as a memorial woodland, that I will post about later. Sydney Park is a prototype of a people-friendly, dog-friendly, wildlife-friendly green space that is not ordinary in any sense & that will only improve as the decades pass. City of Sydney Council have probably won awards for Sydney Park. If they haven’t as yet, then they should. They deserve it.
I have posted a short YouTube video – Birds at Sydney Park Wetlands & will upload more videos of various aspects of this park later – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsHvuGPBjk4
Today I learnt that there were 2 climate rallies happening in Sydney today, one supporting a price on carbon at Belmore Park & another against the Carbon Tax at Hyde Park. We went to the Belmore Park Rally.
Leaving Central Railway Station at 11am was like being caught up in a sea of people walking to Belmore Park. Official estimates say that 8,000 people attended the Belmore Park Rally. I believe this because the park was packed with people of all ages.
The speeches were good, so was the mood of the people. One speaker said something like, “This is the last generation that can do something to stop runaway climate change.” Words like this always seem surreal to me because the idea that Planet Earth can reach a point where it won’t support human life makes me think of the unspeakable suffering necessary on the journey to reach this point. To me it seems stupid to ignore the climate scientists. I’d love it if they were wrong. Everyone would.
I’m with Felix Finkbeiner. He may only be 12-years-old, but to me he speaks perfect sense. “If we follow the scientists that tell us there is a crisis & if we act & in 20 years we find out that they were wrong, then we didn’t do any mistake. But if we follow the skeptics & don’t do anything & in 20 years we will find out that they were wrong it is too late for us to save our future.” http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/03/08/it-takes-a-child-to-tell-us-how-it-really-is/
I made a 3-minute YouTube video of today’s Climate Rally – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPD4n-c0wqk
This is absolutely not about trees, but it is about the environment & stopping good food from going to landfill.
Tonight a young man slipped a small piece of paper into my hand. I asked what it was about & he said, “I’m trying to feed 50,000 people.” Boy, that got my attention.
His name Stan Ghys & his story goes like this. He won the People’s Choice Award in an art competition with an artwork made from 50,000 bottle tops. He donated his prize money to OzHarvest & decided to keep going with fundraising. His first step is to raise $15,000 & donations are tax deductible.
About OzHarvest – “OzHarvest is a non-denominational charity that rescues quality excess food which would otherwise have been discarded. This food is distributed at no cost to charities feeding men, women & children in need.”
Stan says, “OzHarvest now delivers on average 80,000 meals each month with a fleet of 5 vans in Sydney. Excess food is turned into a resource, saving thousands of kilograms of food from being dumped as landfill each year.”
You can find information about Stan’s quest at -http://everydayhero.com.au/stan
We discovered this park a couple of months ago & what a discovery it was. If you are into nature, a bit of bush, water, birds & walking, this is a great place for a wander. The sign says it was opened for the bicentenary in 1988. The park is divided into 3 sections known as North, South & East. This post is about East & North Bicentennial Park. We have yet to visit South Bicentennial Park, which looks more of a wild park as it’s part of wetlands. It’s a big place that joins with Scarborough Park, which has its own North, East, South & Central. Scarborough Park Central is more like a regular park with playing fields & a skate park filled with talented kids.
If you wander through the playing fields to the bank of trees, you find yourself entering a bush area filled with trees. Many of the trees are quite substantial in girth & height & must be a few decades old.
A ring of moving water does an oval journey around a couple of islands before it travels to a wetland lake in South Bicentennial Park on the other side of President Avenue. The islands are filled with natural bush & trees. Many of the trees have Ibis nests high up in the branches with families of Ibis perching. It’s quite a sight.
The sound from baby birds trilling, as only Ibis do, was lovely. There were also wild ducks & geese when we were there. The path around the islands & to the pedestrian bridge is a wide path of mown grass, no concrete anywhere, which feels like a luxury these days.
It’s safe with enough people with dogs walking around to know that someone would hear you if you needed help, yet you are far enough away from the traffic & the sight of buildings to feel you are anywhere other than in the Inner South East of Sydney. The terrain is mostly flat, suitable for a pram, but not a wheelchair. However, there is a car park near the water & a pedestrian bridge that is suitable for a wheelchair.
It’s a fabulous place for a walk or a picnic as there are plenty of shady places to lay a blanket & watch the birds & other wildlife. There are also plenty of places for the kids to have a run or explore. The skate park is part of Scarborough Park. When we were there it was filled with kids & I watched while they took turns allowing the little less experienced or younger children have a go before they did their runs & leaps into the air.
Rockdale Council has done a very great thing with this group of parks. They have ensured that there is something for everyone whilst protecting areas purely for wildlife habitat. The map shows they have protected & worked on a significant wildlife corridor that is perfect habitat for water birds. I think they should be commended for this. In the past the area would have been drained, filled in & housing built on it or the park would have been made accessible for people from corner to corner with the wildlife having to make do. That this area has been made a wildlife sanctuary is a wonderful thing. We loved the place & will go again because there is a lot to see.
In news just in, the Australian New Zealand Climate Forum is meeting in Hobart today.
Climatologists have established that Australia’s cities are feeling the heat of both urbanisation & rising temperatures.
More trees please. If we don’t plant them now, it will become much harder to grow trees in urban environments because they will die from the heat. I’ll post more about the Forum when the information is available. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/14/3037851.htm?section=justin