The Silva Cell system was developed with the goal of improving the urban environment by providing a means for trees to have access to the soil volumes they need to thrive, and by which stormwater can be absorbed back into the ground.
At issue with integrating green infrastructure and products such as Silva Cells into the urban environment is the unavoidable fact of limited space. Furthermore, the space that is available is often occupied by or in close proximity to other underground infrastructure such as water, sewer, and gas pipes, and electric and communications cables. Collectively this type of infrastructure is commonly referred to as utilities.
The Silva Cell system with its large quantity of void space, open top frames and individual components was designed to make integration of the system and utilities as easy as possible. That being said, the integration of the Silva Cell system and other green infrastructure with utilities is one of the biggest challenges we all face.
As DeepRoot’s Constructions & Installation Coordinator, I think about and troubleshoot these issues all the time. Believe me that we’ve learned a lot along the way. The important takeaway here is not that it is difficult to use Silva Cells in areas with utilities, but rather that there are several solutions for doing so successfully.
This blog post is the first of several that will discuss of some of the most common issues regarding integrating Silva Cells and utilities. In future entries, I’ll be reviewing design strategies, locating the Silva Cells in advance of future work, accessing the system for future utility work and maintenance and accessing utilities within the Silva Cells in emergency situations. Please stay tuned, and if you have anything specific you’d like me to cover, make sure to let me know in the Comments section.