’The Spirit of Barak Trail’ The Green Spine Chirnside Park
The 'Green Spine' is a sustainable, green gateway to the Shire of Yarra Ranges, along one of its major roads – Maroondah Highway. The spine delivers on multiple roles; it creates an easily identifiable ‘green lung’ and 'heart' for the Chirnside Park Major Activity Centre and a ‘sustainable’ brand and identity for the Shire, it provides a shared pathway with links to neighbouring areas, it delivers improvements in storm water quality via swales, rain gardens and ephemeral wetlands; and it captures solar energy to light the shared path.
Shire of Yarra Ranges
ASPECT Studios are a landscape architecture company who led the design. Consultants were:
Storm Consulting – Civil Engineering and Water sensitive urban design
Charles Anderson – Public Artist / Designer
Martin Butcher – Lighting Design
Surf Coast – Surveying
Robert Bird Group – Structural Engineering
Hardrock – Geotechnical Engineering
From inception, the multi-disciplinary team worked together to provide a community focused project that delivered sustainable outcomes. The design emerged out in-depth collaboration between the disciplines of landscape architecture, art, electrical and water engineering. Central to the project was the principle that a ‘gateway’ was a spatial and temporal experience for both the vehicles and pedestrians. The project’s ambition was to reclaim this space as a place for pedestrians, cyclists, workers and the environment.The trail is called the 'Spirit of Barak' after William Barak who was born near Brushy Creek.
Project Innovation / Need
The municipality has a strong identity, centred around rural and bush themes typified by the extensive mountain ranges, produce and viticulture areas within the Shire. The ‘Green Spine’ project welcomes residents home, and greets visitors with a strong avenue of indigenous and native tree planting, emblematic of the vegetation within the municipality. Sustainability is a key focus of the Yarra Ranges Council and the Green Spine project aims to integrate different elements of this subject within its form. Solar powered lighting, best practice treatment of water from roads, indigenous plantings, robust and natural materials and strong tree planting create a truly green spine.
Outdoor recreation is a major pursuit for residents and visitors to the area and the new shared trail on the North and South side of the highway offers a new trail to explore and to connect to the activity centre and other trails for residents and workers. The trail links pedestrians and bicycles from Chirnside Park to Mooroolbark and Croydon North.
The special factors of the project were firstly the process of achieving a physical outcome in a highly constrained, permit and service laden highway environment, and secondly the relationship between landscape architect, artist and client. The project created a highly developed public art form that was only partially constructed. The client discerned towards the end that the generated form of an abstract “house/home” was too sensitive post the 2009 bushfires, which were catastrophic for many parts of the municipality.
The integrated landscape and art form evolved from both site form and constraints and the concept of ‘home’. In process terms, a site was identified that could accommodate a larger physical form, and one which would be highly visible to both car users and the local community. The intersection before one moves up a hill , which provided some additional width in the road easement determined the location. Also the location was in the foreground of the takeaway restaurants and service station. Thereby the gateway form becomes a means of envisioning the space.
The original house frame design was deemed too sensitive by the council at the time, deemed too referential to the recent destruction of homes by the 2009 bushfires. As such the design was modified and the vertical frame of the house postponed. The frame will become visible over time by the use of a large grove of trees that rise from the house plane. The lighting towers became part of expression of the vertical house form. Volta voltaic cells where integrated into the ‘gateway’ form as symbolic ‘trees’. The solar cells provide lighting for the entire public lighting for the trail.
Sustainability is a key focus of the Yarra Ranges Council and the Green Spine project aims to integrate different elements of this subject within its form. Solar powered lighting, best practice treatment of water from roads, indigenous plantings, robust and natural materials and strong tree planting create a truly green spine.
Water Sensitive Urban Design
Stormwater runoff from the road is treated in adjacent water sensitive urban design treatments zones before entering the main drainage system and than joining the Brushy Creek and than Yarra River. Treated water is then fit to be carried into our creeks and rivers, promoting healthy habitats and recreational areas. This part of the project received Melbourne Water support and funding.
Tree and lower storey planting is a major component of the project. The planting is of indigenous tree species, selected for habitat, robustness and visual form. A combination of tree species were employed along the length of the project. The tree planting needed to negotiate various technical issues such as underground and above ground services, drainage, VicRoads safety guidelines, sightlines to traffic and businesses, bus stops, lighting, floodlines, existing topography and vegetation.