Silva Cells will provide a large, uncompacted soil environment for new trees in courtyard built over the new Capella condominium parking garage
The University District, a mixed-use neighborhood just west of the University of Calgary, is rapidly becoming a popular place to live with shops, restaurants, and luxury housing options. One of the district’s newest residential developments is Capella: an eight-building condominium complex along Norford Avenue with a total of 142 units. At the center of the area, above an underground parking facility, is a paved communal courtyard in which a series of new trees are being planted in 2023 — the Silva Cell system is being utilized as a suspended-pavement module to provide enough quality loam soil for the roots to grow and for the trees to reach healthy maturity.
Number of Silva Cells: 306 (2x) / 390 (3x)
Total Number of Courtyard Trees: 47
Type of Project: Plaza
Project Designer: Nadi Design
Project Contractor: Blue Grass Nursery
Installation Date of Silva Cells: 2023
A modern urban neighborhood sprouting from the old “West Campus” lands adjacent to the University of Calgary, University District is among the province’s most forward-thinking developments. It’s the first community in Alberta (and the largest community anywhere in Canada) to achieve LEED ND Platinum status, the highest commitment to leadership in energy and environmental design. Green infrastructure is also a cornerstone principle: “green design and planning, stormwater management and integrated efficiencies and pollution prevention” are three of the district’s top priorities.
One of the many developments being built in University District is Capella: a new residential complex with a total of eight buildings, a 92-unit apartment-style facility surrounded by seven less dense, single-level homes. Capella broke ground in 2020, attracting residents with its modern styling and community-friendly amenities.
The outdoor experience was as important to project planners as the interior, including the unique glass “breezeway”: an outside passageway through the building, framed by the expansive two-story lobby and fitness studio. The breezeway leads into the courtyard, which will be one of Capella’s showstoppers — a mixed-use green space whose landscaping experience was spearheaded by the team at Nadi Design, who incorporated Silva Cells in support of the newly planted trees.
As noted by the master developer Brookfield Residential, the courtyard is meant to be “accessible to the entire community, offering active and passive spaces to socialize in or find a quiet oasis in solitude. Oversized patios are nestled in-between the gardens and face out onto the street to engage pedestrians.”
Nadi Design took this connected community aesthetic to heart, building a courtyard experience that “complemented the architecture, prioritized the pedestrian experience and felt distinctive to the area.” Creating an inviting, shady green space was also woven into design plans from the outset. New trees are being planted in the courtyard in the summer and fall of 2023, supported by the DeepRoot Silva Cell system — 696 total cells are to be utilized, both 2x and 3x configurations, to provide the tree roots with an expansive, uncompacted soil environment into which the roots can grow and flourish.
One of the chief technical challenges of the installation, however, was the built structure upon which the courtyard rests: an underground parking garage for Capella residents. Nadi Design recognized the versatility of the Silva Cell system for this application: “We used a modular suspended pavement system that allowed for an increase in soil volume, providing an adequate growth volume to support medium sized trees.” Indeed, the Silva Cells worked so well that they were installed in lieu of void form above the concrete parking garage, saving money in the process.
The first residents at Capella are already moving in — and every unit will soon be occupied, as the condo is sold out. DeepRoot is excited to track the progress of the courtyard trees, as well as the sustainability features prioritized by developers across University District.