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Two smooth, large, light grey rocks resting on a table surrounded by three small green plants.

Known as the Foyer Forest, the green space includes exotic, shade tolerant plants that will form a dense ecosystem near the entrance to TAFE SA’s Tonsley campus. Its construction takes the total count of trees, plants and shrubs within the MAB to almost 4,500.

Two TAFE SA students standing side-by-side at the new ‘foyer forest’ at Tonsley Innovation District.

TAFE SA students Dan Walsh and Euan Bragg enjoying the new ‘foyer forest’ at Tonsley Innovation District

The forest complements the nearby multi award-winning Central Forest, Lounge Forest and Plaza Forest, which are known as the lungs of the MAB, and the Western Plaza park and new wetlands on the western side of the District. Further greening to the eastern side of the MAB is also well underway and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The latest urban canopy – delivered by Space Landscape Construction - will act as a backdrop to three tables or “outdoor meeting rooms”, which can be utilised by businesses within the District and as a flexible study space and casual lunch area for TAFE students.

Steel cylinders - painted green in a nod to the ‘Regal Green’ of the old Chrysler Valiant which was once assembled at Tonsley – dominate the centre of each table and will be spilling with greenery as the forest matures.

L-shaped table with small stools surrounding a large green cylindrical planter box housing a small tree.

It is anticipated that a series of work pods and office tenancies will be built around the Foyer Forest in the future, mirroring similar, successful activations around the other MAB forests.

James Hayter, Director of Oxigen, the lead consultant for the Tonsley public realm, said the forests were areas of ongoing international interest.

“We underplay it in South Australia but overseas they are fascinated by this project,” Mr Hayter said.

“The temptation might have been to demolish to Main Assembly Building but to adaptively reuse this post-industrial brownfield site in the way we have is an amazing sustainable outcome.”

Each forest has its own unique character and sense of identity, including misting volcanoes in the Central Forest which are designed to modify air temperature and create a microclimate matched to the plant selection.

In addition to the thousands of trees and plants now greening the MAB, the District’s solar capacity will soon increase to five megawatts after practical completion was reached on a new array installed by CleanPeak Energy on the roofs of the TAFE SA and Line 0 buildings. Once switched on and combined with the existing solar panels atop the MAB, they will collectively generate up to 80% of Tonsley’s energy demand.

A 10-megawatt battery will shortly be installed at the District too, to capture any excess energy and store it onsite for later use, rather than it going back into the grid.

A small tree planted in a single planter box surrounded by three shrubs planted in the same planter box.

Recycled water, captured at the nearby Oaklands Wetlands, is also being used to maintain Tonsley’s streetscape during hotter months. In the future, it is planned that a dual-pipe system will pump grey water into homes at Tonsley Village – an initiative that will save 25 megalitres of water per annum for the entire project.

Mr Rigter said it was this strong green agenda that led the Tonsley project to receive Australia’s first Six Star Green Star commercial environmental rating in 2015. The Tonsley Forests also received the Healthy Parks Healthy People Prize at the 2021 Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) Awards.

He said the forests had led to some unexpected benefits for the broader community, including becoming an alternate destination to the traditional neighbourhood park.

“On weekends it can be found teeming with kids attending birthday parties or learning to ride their bikes. There is even weddings and citizenship ceremonies,” he said.

Multiple green seedlings planted in soil.
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