EcoPOP – cooling Sydney’s streets…

| Gardening, Off-Farm goings on, Vegetable Gardening, Vermiculture (worms), Water Harvesting + Reuse | comments | Author :

An ecoPOP is a small and self-contained city oasis, boasting a simple, self-contained system of self-watering fruit trees, herbs, water collection and a worm farm.

Intended to be installed in places like a median strip in a suburban street, they’re designed to incrementally offset the ‘heat island’ effect of urban streets, slow traffic, and create community.

ecoPOP with water collection, wicking beds, fruit trees and herbs…

Worm farm, vertical garden, banana tree… this is going to look amazing once everything gets growing!

Vertical garden, awaiting pots…

Conceived by Michael Mobbs and friends in Sydney, the ecoPOP idea throws up plenty of fundamental questions and conversations that we need to be having about how our city streets function in relation to our community’s sustainability, food supply and community interaction. In short, it’s a goldmine.

Michael Mobbs runs the Sustainable House in the inner city Sydney suburb of Chippendale, and over the last 10 years, Myrtle street has transformed into a very special place via small community actions.

We take our Permaculture Design Certificate students there during our urban Sydney courses, and each time it’s an amazing visit.

There’s community composting bins of the verges and freely available verge grown food, left right and center. There’s car share parking. And now there’s ecoPOPs as well. It’s kinda your dream inner city street.

As I mentioned in A Whole Street of Verge Gardens (looking at the amazing Wilga Avenue over in Dulwich Hill), the concept of creating community out the front of your house, rather than in the private back-space, is pretty amazing when it works, and has huge flow-on benefits for everyone involved.

Will the ecoPOPs concept catch on? Time will tell. They look pretty funky to us!

If you’d like to host one, you can, by going to

The ecoPOP in the photos above is currently stationed at Addison Road Community Center in Marrickville, so if you’re Sydney side, check it out – well worth a look.

>> More about urban permaculture and sustainability stuff seen, built and drooled over here…

See the comments

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0 responses to “EcoPOP – cooling Sydney’s streets…

  1. Also how does it effect vision seems a bit high if it is on the nature strip, pedestrians wont be able to see cars and vice versa. Great idea, but as you guys know a Food Forest would do the same thing with less technology and vastly cheaper. I have an abundant garden out the front of my house but if my neighbour put one of these on the nature strip I wouldn’t be happy !

  2. Looks good to me, and with new ideas you always have to start somewhere. I’m sure the design will change as feedback comes in from those who host them.

    As for visual impediment, anyone who plants a natural verge, blocks the line of sight, if shrubs and small trees are used. Although I do think planting small flowers around the base of the unit would help alleviate heat. If the tank is full of water it won’t be a heat sink as it takes a lot of heat to boil water.

    I like the idea, I think it’s something suburbanites can use. Maintaining the verge isn’t always possible if you’re working full-time, so I see the reasonings behind this new design. It wouldn’t be anything I could use as our front verge is 77 metres long 😉 but I could see it being used in suburbia to good effect.

  3. I think this is the genesis of a good idea and I agree with the concerns raised about visual obstruction. I’d add that the galvanised metal would reflect a lot of glare. While coloured zincalume would add cost and reduce the environmental rating it would also improve the appearance and reduce glare. Regardless of which type of metal is used this model has a fairly large environmental footprint. Something similar using recycled materials might be possible.

    All of these projects require dedicated residents to ensure their success. Non-gardeners are inclined to underestimate the amount of time and resources it takes to keep something like this productive and beautiful.

    All of these issues can be overcome. The heart of the concept is sound and I hope they continue to develop it. Anything that puts more plants into the cityscape is worth encouraging.

  4. How does the water feed into the tank? Usually water is harvested from a larger horizontal surface like a roof and tanks need to be sealed for safety and to deter breeding mozzies. More water catchment is needed for public gardens but not sure how this one really works?

  5. Interesting and clever idea! I wonder if there’s a way to tone down on the metal/upcycled design though? Am just looking at some of the comments above and can see that I’m not the only one pondering this… One of the biggest challenges for projects like these is the visual impact (and possible complaints) from mainstream communities. It’s important to present solutions that meet both the ‘Client’ and ‘Designer’s desires.

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