Bringing Nature to the City: The Canopy’s Innovative Approach to Urban Living.

Bringing Nature to the City: The Canopy’s Innovative Approach to Urban Living.

Through The Canopy on Normanby, we are committed to creating one of Australia’s most sustainable developments by embracing innovative urban design principles. A cornerstone of this vision is the establishment of a Miyawaki forest, the first of its kind in a residential setting in Australia.

  • By Gamuda Land
  • 22 February 2023

Establishing an ecosystem

In our latest article, Miyawaki Forests – An Ecological Game-Changer, we explored the method of urban revegetation and its impact. A Miyawaki Forest fast-tracks ecological succession to create a multi-story ecosystem that increases in complexity and biodiversity over time. Using the Miyawaki approach, the growth that would take centuries to naturally occur happens in only a handful of years. The benefits that a multi-generational forest provides for an ecosystem, such as reduced air pollution and urban revegetation, are passed on in a much shorter time frame.


Enhancing biodiversity in urban areas

Our collaborators share multiple common goals of bringing people together, enhancing biodiversity and rejuvenating this part of Melbourne, as it prepares for significant growth in the future.

We have partnered with leading Landscape Design studio OCULUS to utilise their extensive urban design expertise to connect residents to their environment and each other. OCULUS’ approach to The Canopy has been focused on providing high levels of amenities built on a foundation of ecological sustainability.

We recently sat down with Senior Associate Landscape Architect, Tim Mitchell to discuss how the Miyawaki concept resonated with their aims to provide as much environmental value to the project as possible.

“A highly diverse, densely planted park seemed the most efficient way to achieve a lot in a relatively small space. So, when Gamuda Land brought the concept of the Miyawaki forest to the table we embraced it,” said Tim Mitchell.


Honouring the site’s history

Indigenous heritage advisors MURRI : YUL also worked closely with OCULUS on the project. The group provided cultural guidance to ensure that first nations narratives were incorporated throughout the forest.

“MURRI : YUL facilitated the cultural engagement and brought an indigenous perspective to the design team, embedding meaningful conceptual themes to the park and building in a respectful and authentic way,” says Tim.

These narratives include a tarnook water feature as a gathering place and kangaroo footprints that mark desire lines across the site, reflecting the area’s historical presence of kangaroos prior to colonisation.


Selecting flora for fauna

The forest is set to contain a wide variety of native species, with 80 per cent being indigenous and the remaining 20 per cent introduced species, chosen to increase resilience in the altered landscape.

“Since the site is now highly urbanized – with significantly altered wind patterns and geological and hydrological systems – we have increased the diversity of species from what originally grew here,” explains Tim.

Prior to colonisation, the site straddled the boundary between two unique vegetation types: herb-rich woodlands to the east and fresh-water wetlands towards the Yarra River to the north and west. The plant species indigenous to these ecological vegetation classes have formed the basis of the park’s palette.

“The park also acts as an important link in the Melbourne pollinator corridor and will create habitat for pollinators, birds and other urban fauna, that will serve as a valuable steppingstone between the Royal Botanic Gardens and Westgate Park,” says Tim.


A sensory experience

OCULUS’s landscape design of the park aims to provide park visitors with an array of native plants that enhance sensory experiences, including fragrant flora, textural foliage, and culturally significant plants.

“For example, the local tea tree, renowned among aboriginal people for its medicinal and antiseptic properties has been integrated into the design, under the direction of MURRI : YUL, to symbolize this place as a place of healing,” explains Tim.


Revitalizing city living with nature

Located just 1.2km from Melbourne’s CBD, the park offers a lush escape from the cityscape as well as a higher level of biodiversity than traditional urban horticulture. Its prime positioning in the heart of Australia’s largest urban renewal project, Fisherman’s Bend, will see the park bring much-needed communal green space to the South Melbourne community.

Other benefits include improved air quality through the absorption of pollution. The park’s vegetation will also mitigate noise, regulate temperature through natural cooling, improve the health of the soil, and increase water absorbency which alleviates the risk of flooding.

Tim concluded, “we see the park as a tranquil escape from the surrounding city; a counter-point to the concrete and steel that dominates the surrounding industrial landscape. The forest hopes to breathe life into the precinct.”


Learn more about the Miyawaki Forest we are building at The Canopy, click here to find out more

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