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FUTUREARCH for the UK’s landscape architects


Green space in luxury builds

Joe Taylor, Octagon

au gmented re a l i t y CAN IT change how we build cities?


Golf course design Designing with empathy Strata Design Associates Interactive landscapes

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Enjoying the outdoors since 1947

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FUTUREARCH for the UK’s landscape architects

WELCOME February is here, and it’s already been a busy start to the year. In January, we attended the Palmstead Soft Landscaping Workshop, where a range of speakers discussed some fascinating topics – it was great to get an insight into the planting plans of projects such as the Barbican and the Bosco Verticale. For those of you who didn’t make it, or want to relive the event, we have a roundup of events on pages 10-11. It’s always exciting to discover new technology, especially when it can be helpful for the industry. This month we’ve featured two exciting tech projects that encourage the public to get out and explore cities, and the projects within. First, Bristol City Council has an exciting online tool called Know Your Place where the local community can keep track of the work going on, as well as updating it themselves to provide information about the heritage of the place. We also spoke to the team behind augmented reality app Key to the City to find out how the technology can help landscape architects envision and build spaces. I am sure that the majority of you have heard about the situation in Sheffield, which has become infamous for the local council’s tree felling operation. With protests ongoing, Steve Frazer of Enzygo looks at the issue from the perspective of a landscape architect – read his piece on pages 32-33. Have a great month. Joe Betts

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FutureArch February 2018


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WELCOME 06 NEWS 08 INTERNATIONAL NEWS 10 palmstead nurseries: soft landscaping workshop 12 pro landscaper business awards

FUTUREARCH for the UK’s landscape architects




15 the big interview: RICHARD WILMOTT 18 octagon 22 BRISTOL CITY COUNCIL 26 AUGMENTED REALITY 29 GOLF COURSE design 32 SHEFFIELD TREES 35 the case for composites 39 low-energy lighting




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3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 2DA Tel: 01903 777 570 Published by ©Eljays44 Ltd – Connecting Horticulture Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Gwent, UK The 2018 subscription price for FutureArch is £125. Subscription records are maintained at Eljays44 Ltd, 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA, UK. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Eljays44 Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, uncommissioned photographs or manuscripts. Whilst every effort has been made to maintain the integrity of our advertisers, we accept no responsibility for any problem, complaints, or subsequent litigation arising from readers’ responses to advertisements in the magazine. We also wish to emphasise that views expressed by editorial contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.

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EDITORIAL Features Editor – Joe Betts



Managing Editor – Joe Wilkinson PRODUCTION Production Editor – Charlie Cook Subeditor – Kate Bennett Design: Kara Thomas SALES Business Development Manager – Jamie Wilkinson Deputy Sales Manager – Jessica McCabe



MANAGEMENT Managing Director – Jim Wilkinson Editorial Director – Lisa Wilkinson

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New HS2 Colne Valley viaduct concepts released

The £55m Westside scheme planned for Wolverhampton has reached a major milestone, with Urban&Civic receiving outline planning permission for the first phase of its development on 6.4 acres of land at the heart of the city. A multiplex cinema, 50,000 square feet of additional leisure space, new restaurants covering 40,000 square feet, a hotel with more than 100 beds, and a multistorey car park are to be included in phase 1, while phase 2 will deliver new city centre homes and additional retail and leisure space. Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is going to be a big year for regeneration in the city, with the Westside project leading the way. The scheme has already attracted unprecedented demand from occupiers and, now that outline planning approval has been granted, the finer details can be agreed in terms of occupier expectations. “Urban&Civic possesses an excellent track record in delivering comparable high quality schemes in the UK, and has the financial support in place. There is a general enthusiasm around the Westside opportunity, and optimism concerning the groundswell of regeneration activity across the city, where £3.7bn of investment is on site or in the pipeline.”

Planning approval awarded for university’s new £60m project


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FutureArch February 2018

A flagship project in The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) Masterplan has been given planning approval today at a Preston City Council hearing. Designed by Hawkins\Brown following an international RIBA competition, the proposed Student Centre and a modern civic square will be the focal point of the University’s £200m Masterplan development. The new Student Centre, which has targeted a BREEAM (environmental quality) rating of ‘excellent’, will cover 7,304 square metres and provide a new reception area, informal learning spaces and a student wellbeing support centre.

©Hayes Davidson / Knight Architects

Westside developer Urban&Civic receives planning permission

HS2 Ltd has revealed an outline concept for the Colne Valley viaduct, which will help inform development of its final design and form the basis for wider discussions with local communities. The concept was developed by independent specialists Knight Architects working with Atkins in consultation with the Colne Valley Regional Park Panel and the HS2 Independent Design Panel. The concept document explores a range of ideas for how the viaduct can be sensitively sited within the Colne Valley, while also addressing the technical demands of the project. It will help to inform further design work and technical development by Align, the main civil engineering contractor for HS2 between the Colne Valley viaduct and the northern portal of the Chilterns Tunnel. “The Colne Valley viaduct will be one of the longest viaducts in the UK, and one of HS2’s best-known structures,” said HS2 programme director Mike Hickson. “We are pleased and grateful for the work done by Knight Architects, the Colne Valley Regional Park Panel and the HS2 Independent Design Panel to produce this potential scheme design. We have every confidence that our contractor, Align, will continue this collaborative approach and engagement, as it now develops its own scheme and detailed design of this significant structure.”

Designed as an iconic gateway to the city, the new square will span 8,440 square metres, providing flexible and adaptable spaces for a wide range of community, public, business and student uses. The project will also see improvements made to landscaping and the public realm in Adelphi Quarter. “Securing planning approval for this flagship project is fantastic news and we’re extremely grateful to the many people and organisations who came forward to provide us with their views during the consultation process,” said Michael Ahern, chief operating officer at UCLan. Work on the site could start in early 2019, with the Student Centre and square completed during the summer of 2020.

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London’s toxic air-level has ‘improved overnight’ after introduction of low emission bus zones Low-emission bus zones on some of London’s most polluted high streets have been praised for leading to an “overnight improvement” for toxic air levels. No road-specific annual toxic air limits have yet been breached in the capital, which is an improvement on last year. In 2017, London’s filthy air broke legal limits on annual levels of traffic fumes just 120 hours into the New Year, with readings taken in Brixton Road

Green light for residential-led regeneration scheme at Icknield Port Loop, Birmingham Birmingham City Council has approved plans for the first phase of a residential regeneration scheme at Icknield Port Loop, Birmingham. Working closely with Glenn Howells Architects, Maccreanor Lavington Architects and ShedKM, Grant Associates has created a detailed landscape masterplan that will see 207 family homes and 90 apartments built, along with green infrastructure that includes a new public park, public open spaces, communal gardens and canal-side public realm. The scheme is the first phase of a proposal by Urban Splash and Places for People to develop a total of 1,150 homes on the 43-acre city centre site. Located next to the Icknield Port Loop canal, the homes will be a mixture of family houses and apartments. Commercial, retail and leisure facilities will also be delivered. Claire Hobart, senior associate at Grant Associates, comments: “Our aim is to reinvigorate this piece of brownfield industrial land close to the heart of Birmingham. We want to connect Icknield Port Loop’s new community with an inspiring series of new waterfront and green spaces. The landscape creates a sense of place that draws on the site’s unique island location and connections to the waterways of the city, adding to Birmingham’s credentials as a great city to live, work and play.”

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finding levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) repeatedly breaching the EU limit. London environment experts said that the change has been “largely” due to the roll-out of new cleaner bus routes in the capital’s worst offending areas, such as in Brixton Road in south London and Putney High Street in west London. Frank Kelly, environmental health professor at King’s College London (KCL), said London mayor Sadiq Khan’s scheme could have led to an “overnight” improvement. “If you remove the vehicles that create the problem, pollution just disappears,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. The introduction of these eco-buses in places like Putney High Street would be a main reason why we have seen an improvement.”

Broadway Malyan secures its largest UK masterplan consent

A masterplan developed by Broadway Malyan for a major new neighbourhood in Suffolk has been unanimously approved by planners. The proposals for the 279-acre site, adjacent to the Adastral Business Park on the outskirts of Ipswich, will see the creation of 2,000 new homes, and is the practice’s largest UK planning consent to date. The successful outline planning application comes more than a decade after the site was first earmarked for potential development, and Broadway Malyan director Jeff Nottage said the practice had worked hard with other stakeholders to bring forward a scheme that met the needs of the client while respecting the sensitive nature of the site. “Our aspiration for the site was to create a viable and thriving new mixed-use community that was based around a high quality community hub while fully embracing the site’s beautiful natural setting,” he said. At the heart of the development will be a new public square overlooking a lake with a series of small shops, cafes, a community centre and a purpose built medical centre. The settlement will include a 1.5-acre employment area and more than 50 acres of outdoor space and play areas.

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NEWS ©Donal Murphy Photography

Studio Stefano Boeri Architetti continues its design activities in favour of sustainable architecture worldwide

University College Dublin to launch International Design Competition University College Dublin (UCD) is commissioning an international search for a design team to devise an Entrance Precinct Masterplan and design the €48m, 8,000 square metre Centre for Creative Design. UCD’s parkland and wooded campus, close to Dublin’s city centre, has a serious architectural pedigree, with a mid-20th-century core that was designed by Andrzej Wejchert. UCD, known as Ireland’s Global University, plans to improve and develop its campus to reflect its 21st century identity and offer faculty and students exemplary facilities that raise the university’s profile internationally and give it greater presence within Dublin. The University’s MArch is working towards Substantial Equivalence accreditation from the American Institute of Architects – rare for a university outside North America. UCD intends to run a joint Master’s degree with the National College of Art and Design and Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, combining architecture with art.


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FutureArch February 2018

Following the Vertical Forest projects of Milan, Nanjing, Utrecht, Tirana, Lausanne and Paris, it has been announced that a new Vertical Forest will be constructed in the Netherlands, in Eindhoven. The Trudo Vertical Forest will be the first Vertical Forest adopted by a social housing project, and is destined for use by low-income social groups – particularly young people with an urban lifestyle. The 19 floors of the tower will house apartments rented out at affordable rates, graced by balconies with hundreds of trees and plants in a wide variety of species. “The high-rise building of Eindhoven confirms that it is possible to combine solutions to the great challenges of climate change with those

for housing shortages,” says Stefano Boeri. “Urban forestry is not only necessary to improve the environment of the world’s cities, but also an opportunity to improve the living conditions of less fortunate city dwellers.” The client, Sint-Trudo, has been immensely keen on the construction of this building, which will have 125 social housing units. “The Trudo Vertical Forest sets new living standards,” said Francesc Cesa Bianchi, project director at Stefano Boeri. “Each apartment will have a surface area of under 50 square metres and the exclusive benefit of one tree, 20 shrubs and more than four square metres of terrace.”

Resilient infrastructure proposal aims to protect San Francisco Bay from rising sea levels San Francisco’s Bay Area could be in for a major ecological makeover. SCAPE Landscape Architecture has unveiled Public Sentiment, a living infrastructure proposal that aims to create a visitor-friendly buffer zone around the bay’s most vulnerable ecosystems, which consist of marshes, mudflats, and coastal edges. This would protect the low-lying zones from the imminent threat of rising sea levels.

Scape’s proposal was developed for the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, an open design competition that calls for innovative solutions to the issues the Bay Area faces due to climate change. According to the architects, their inspiration for the proposal is based on using sediment as a core building block to create a nature-based resilient system around the bay. The plan is comprised of three projects: Pilots for a Future Bay, The Bay Cushion, and Unlock Alameda Creek. Pilots for a Future Bay involves various pilot programs that would include the local community in the planning process of making the area more resilient. The plan includes working with local students, who would help design and monitor various scientific experiments geared towards protecting the Bay Area’s ecosystems.

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PALMSTEAD NURSERIES Soft Landscaping Workshop

the 10th annual soft landscaping workshoP from palmstead nurseries saw a top line-up discuss a wide range of topics, from soils for podium landscapes to sourcing plants Bosco Verticale: professional maintenance will be key to the project’s success

Dan Pearson’s corner of Chatsworth for RHS Chelsea 2015 Image ©Allan Pollok-Morris

Garden Museum


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Adam White and Andrée Davies’s 2017 RHS Hampton Court Palace garden

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“THE IDEA OF THE EVENT WAS TO INSPIRE MORE DESIGNERS AND ARCHITECTS TO EMBRACE THE IDEA OF GREENING EVERY SURFACE” Professor Nigel Dunnett took to the stage first for his presentation on choosing the planting for the Barbican. One of the key takeaways from his talk was the extensive consultation with local residents; Nigel discovered that residents wanted there to be no ‘winter brown’, but plenty of trees and shrubs planted into the landscape. This led to the decision that most of the planting should be evergreen, to ensure that the space looked colourful all year round. Nigel also spoke to locals after the project was finished, and talked about an encounter he’d had with some local teenagers, who described the planting as like being in a giant meadow in the heart of London. Alex Piddington-Bishop, City of London garden supervisor, then on explained how a five-member team is responsible for maintaining the Barbican’s planting. After a break, it was the turn of leading soils expert Tim O’Hare, who argued why soils matter in podium landscapes – a fascinating talk on an often-overlooked subject. Tim looked at the British standards for topsoil, and engaged in some busting of myths such as the common opinion that more topsoil is always better.

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Bosco Verticale (‘Vertical Forest) co-designer Laura Gatti came next, speaking with real passion about the scheme and exploring the maintenance procedure for looking after the towers’ 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 perenn ials. Like the Barbican, Bosco Verticale has a specific maintenance team, including arborists to prune the trees once a year and keep them healthy. In the lunch break that followed, attendees were given the opportunity to take a look at some of the exhibitor stands that had been set up for the day. After the break, three shorter, informative presentations were given. The first came from Dr Louisa Boyer, technical director of PlantWorks, who spoke about the usefulness of mycorrhizal fungi. Secondly, Adam White and Andrée Davies spoke about their success at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017; the pair designed a garden for children on the autism spectrum, winning an RHS Gold Medal, the RHS Best in Show, and the RHS People’s Choice Award – an unprecedented achievement. Chief plant health officer Nicola Spence provided a biosecurity update, telling the audience about diseases such as Xylella fastidiosa, and answering questions about how those in the industry can help to prevent diseases from spreading in the UK. Nick Coslett was keen to point out that Palmstead is cultivating more and more of its plants in the UK, and is not importing high-risk species as part of its efforts to prevent diseases entering the country from abroad. The final talk of the day saw designer Dan Pearson speak about some of the projects he has been involved with, such as the King’s Cross redevelopment, the Garden Museum, and the infamous Garden Bridge project. Pearson’s plant lists are notoriously difficult to source, and he often chooses plants that aren’t necessarily in commercial production. To this end, he uses a mix of independent nurseries and larger suppliers. “Of the plant material, 90% has to be easily accessible and easily sourced; then it becomes more practical to source the 10% that give you the ‘twist’ in the plot,” he said. “We will use a contract grower for this, but we have to know that the people we work with can provide the material we are asking for. It’s important to give the smaller growers the opportunity – they can often make the difference.” Overall, the event was an enjoyable, informative, and inspiring day –a fantastic opportunity to hear about some brilliant projects and witness some of the brilliant urban planting that has been taking place.

the speakers


Nicola Spence

Dan Pearson

Nigel Dunnett

Adam White and Andrée Davies


Nick Coslett


Dan Pearson image ©Allan Pollok-Morris


n Wednesday 24 January, Palmstead hosted its 10th annual Soft Landscaping Workshop. The Ashford International Hotel was the venue for a day packed full of seminars, ranging from the rise of vertical forests and garden roofs to plant diseases such as Xylella fastidiosa. Prior to the event, Palmstead marketing manager Nick Coslett said that the idea of the event was to inspire more designers and architects to embrace the idea of greening every surface. That it certainly did: the audience was impressed by the display of some top planting schemes, such as the Barbican and the Bosco Verticale, which have really set a precedent for urban planting in the future. The event was also held in celebration of the company’s 50th year in trading. A specially produced short film showed the running of the nursery – and, in particular, the measures that are being put in place to ensure the highest quality of plants are produced.

The FutureArch stand

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Headline sponsor

Supported by


FutureArch February 2018

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the first ever edition of the pro landscaper business awards, held on friday 9 february, saw gillespies take home the prize in the landscape architecture practice category


illespies has struck gold at the inaugural Pro Landscaper Business Awards. The awards, designed to celebrate the best business practices in the industry, took place on Friday 9 February, and saw international and award-winning business Gillespies win in the Landscape Architecture Practice category. Founded in 1962, Gillespies is one of the UK’s longest-established and most successful independent landscape architectural design practices. It employs some 150 dedicated professionals at all levels, ranging from trainees at the start of their careers to senior and management grade industry leaders. The practice is managed by seven partners with support from a 28-strong management team, based across four UK offices – London, Manchester, Leeds and Oxford – and two satellite offices in Moscow and Abu Dhabi. In a tightly contested category, Gillespies went head to head with two other shortlisted practices, Davies White and HLM Architects. Ultimately, the judges decided that Gillespies should be the company to head home with the gong, praising the practice for its “powerful evidence of equal commitment to promoting from within”, as well as its “pioneering research and training in BIM and the importance of remaining at the forefront of developing landscape design.” Gillespies has achieved critical acclaim and a reputation for consistently delivering places that respond to communities and display a high regard for the quality of the environment and the physical and cultural context of spaces. Collaborating with others in the landscape sector, its highly skilled teams work alongside a diverse range of clients, such as leading developers, architects and local authorities. It works on a wide range of projects and across a plethora of markets and sectors, including residential, cultural, leisure and tourism, office, transport, education, energy and healthcare, and has built projects across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and North America. The quality of its designs has been recognised with some of the industry’s highest accolades, including

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Crossrail Place roof garden ©Gillespies

St Helen’s Square ©Gillespies

11 Landscape Institute Awards and two RIBA Stirling Prize shortlists. The practice is a registered member of the Landscape Institute and a corporate member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Through individual employees, Gillespies also has associations with the Urban Design Group, Royal Institute of British Architects, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Royal Institute of Town Planners. Gillespies is also certified under ISO 9001:2008, demonstrating the firm’s commitment to continual improvement and quality, and is currently in the process of gaining a Cyber Essentials Plus certification. Since 2008, the practice has been a member of CHAS (the Contractors Health and Assessment Scheme) and is regularly audited with respect to legal compliance with Safety, Health, Environment, Quality (SHEQ) management systems and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) guidance and best practice. Pro Landscaper announced the launch of its new cross-industry business awards in August 2017. Created to highlight those who make outstanding contributions to our industry and bringing people together, the awards aim to offer something different. Supported by leading industry magazines Pro Landscaper and FutureArch, and the industry’s number one event, FutureScape, the inaugural Pro Landscaper Business Awards was held in the heart of London’s business district, at the stunning East Wintergarden, Canary Wharf. Other awards handed out on the night included those for best Commercial Landscaping Company, Garden Designer, and Apprenticeship Scheme.

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PIK Green park ©Gillespies

MediaCityUK ©Gillespies

The Piece Hall, Halifax ©Paul White

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strata director Richard Willmott discusses the power of technology, the benefits of staying small, and the practice’s landmark rushden lakes project Can you tell us a little about the history of the company? Strata Design Associates is a young company, formed in early 2017. This new practice is a distillation of lessons learned after my seven years as joint founding director of another landscape architecture practice, and my contrasting experiences of being a landscape architect within both the private and public sectors. What is the size of the team? Small, but we see that as something to celebrate, especially in uncertain times where there’s a need to stay agile and adopt efficient practices. As a small practice, we don’t have to generate large volumes of work simply to sustain the practice, which gives us the freedom to be relatively selective about the work we undertake, and to focus on quality, not quantity. This approach fosters positive and meaningful relationships with clients. We can also pursue interests and make decisions that aren’t purely driven by commercial considerations. What are the main values at the company? We aim to design thoughtful responses to people, landscapes and nature, based on integrity, empathy and respect for people and places. As our Twitter profile @stratadesignuk states, we ‘fly the spatial quality banner’ – that effectively sums up our ethos. Our aspiration is to be known for consistently


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providing high-quality schemes and spatial designs. We’re interested in projects where the quality of the landscape is valued and where we can have positive and meaningful input, rather than just greenwashing the awkward gaps left by overdevelopment.

as much as possible. Online software services, including financial, document control and time management software, are invaluable for freeing up time to focus on design and quality.

What’s the next step – is there anything you’re looking to achieve as a company? We’re always interested in exploring digital technologies in order to achieve efficient outcomes. When budgets are tight, it’s important to demonstrate your value and seek opportunities which help you achieve that. We concentrate on reducing admin tasks and the resulting tedium



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What makes you stand out? Is there any area of work that you specialise in? We deliberately try to work in a variety of sectors, including retail, education and residential, to avoid the ‘eggs in one basket’ cliché. Although we’re a small company, we work on large, complex schemes that require careful consideration and implementation. For us, it’s important to see projects through to completion, rather than undertake tokenistic planning work. Our use of in-house 3D-printed models is proving popular with the clients and architects we’re working with. They are a great way to help us evaluate concepts and spatial quality, test design iterations and quickly identify potential problems. A physical model print has a tactile quality that clients and investors love, and can communicate height, scale and massing more effectively than a render. We have also found that the models are particularly useful for public consultations and can quickly communicate the potential impact of proposals, allowing a much more focused discussion. Although they are derived from a digital model, with the resulting speed and efficiency of production, the 3D prints offer a convenient method for achieving the explorative and communicative benefits of traditional models. How has the role of landscape architects changed during your time in the industry? Naturally the role tends to be dictated by the scale

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of projects, but when I started out 21 years ago, most projects were very hands-on, with a traditional contract management role. Now, with the general move towards design and build contracts, the control of the finer detailing, material specification and quality calls for increased vigilance. On many projects, a value engineering exercise is now obligatory; it often results in a greater number of design options and necessitates increased flexibility in specifications. A focus on commercial realism is now essential for successfully navigating the course of projects, and can often pre-empt problems.


Do you do much collaboration work with other companies? The nature of our work calls for collaboration with a wide range of consultants and we often work as part of large multidisciplinary teams, collaborating with project managers, architects and engineers. We also collaborate with other small practices and bring in specialists as required on a project-byproject basis. Are you seeing any trends at the moment, in terms of what clients are asking for? BIM capability is starting to filter through as a requirement for landscape architects, although, often, a fully coordinated BIM model is not actually required. Our usual practice is to comprehensively model schemes in SketchUp in order to test designs, derive visuals, resolve site levels, and create 3D-printed physical models. With minimal effort, these can be adapted for insertion into the architect’s Revit model, and for us this is currently an easier and more efficient way to integrate into the BIM workflow than using workarounds in Revit itself. Are there any key issues in the industry that you would like to see improved? The potential for disease transmission from imported trees and plant stock is probably not given the prominence it deserves within the industry. Could you tell us about some of the projects you have worked on – what are you particularly proud of? We’re currently working on a broad range of projects, including a large retail scheme, a secondary school, almshouses and a domestic scheme. Our largest scheme on the books is Rushden Lakes, a pioneering £50m shopping and leisure scheme in Northamptonshire; we’re currently working on

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6 Phases 2, 3 and 5. The development is genuinely unique and was shortlisted for a Revo Gold award. Combining nature with retail, its features include a lake, a boathouse and boardwalk with al fresco waterside dining, a splash pad, a central water feature and a rill. The scheme sets an interesting benchmark for sustainable and experiential retail development, and has a symbiotic relationship with the adjacent nature reserves. The development’s lakeside location offers a unique range of leisure activities and has significantly enhanced public access to and funding of the nature reserves. We put a lot of effort into the detail and design of the spaces, and it is fascinating to walk the site and watch how people use and inhabit them.

Images ©Martin Gardner (


1 R  ichard Willmott, Strata director 2  Almshouse consultation model 3 R  ushden lakes central boulevard rill 4 T  he Strata team: Suzy, Richard and Matt 5 R  ushden lakes boardwalk 6 R  ushden lakes view over paving

Strata Design Associates Strata is a UK-based landscape architecture practice creating usable, engaging and resilient spaces based on empathy for people and places. W:

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THE GREEN HEART OF LUXURY Landscaping plays a crucial role in creating the ideal luxury home, according to joe taylor, designer at property developers Octagon


reen space is absolutely vital in new developments,” says Joe Taylor, designer at luxury property specialist Octagon. “I believe that it’s just as important as the homes themselves.” Octagon has built its reputation on the exceptional quality of its properties, working incredibly hard to make sure they are finished perfectly. “Every Octagon home comes with a fully landscaped and planted garden,” Joe tells us. “This is a principle the company has always adhered to since it started building more than three decades ago.” Octagon’s goal for each development is to create ‘a private amenity space for clients, somewhere tranquil and secluded’. This is easily done in the countryside, but can be a challenge in London. “There’s less space to work with, so we have to get creative,” says Joe. Occasionally, it requires thinking not just outside the box, but also outside the development site’s confines. “We often work closely with the residents of the neighbouring homes to ensure their privacy is maintained, as well – sometimes offering to plant mature trees or hedging on their land, too.” The landscaping is then tailored to suit each individual property. “Some require opulence and grandeur, while others want something a little more understated,” Joe tells us. As a rule, though, the company has a ‘less is more’ approach to its schemes. “It’s about the quality of build, and this definitely filters through to the green space design.” Conservation is high on the Octagon agenda. “Recently, we completed a scheme around a magnificent 500-year-old


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1 oak tree,” says Joe, by way of example. “With help from neighbours and the local authorities, we were able to move the house boundaries slightly to ensure the safety and protection of the tree. It resulted in something that was wholly beneficial to everyone.” Over the years, these efforts have earned Octagon several industry accolades, including two What House? Best Landscaping awards and four Bentley awards for Best Landscape. One of the company’s most acclaimed developments is Kingswood Warren Park in Kingswood, Surrey. This small clutch of luxury houses and apartments stands in 19 acres of parkland and centres around a striking Gothic mansion – once home to a Victorian MP and, later, the BBC’s technical research department. Octagon restored and improved the original landscapes to create exquisite grounds that include a sunken garden, shrubberies, woodland walks and a huge, ancient cedar tree. Like Kingswood Warren, the award-winning Richmond Lock development in St Margarets, southwest London, is situated at the foot of a stately home – this time, the 18th-century, Grade II*-listed Gordon House. Here, Octagon created elegant formal gardens, complete with lake, reflection pools and ornamental fountains to match the grandeur of the building. Water features, often framed by topiary, are a recurrent theme at many of the company’s sites. Upper Ribsden in Berkshire, a grand, 27,000 sq ft home set in six acres of landscaped grounds in Windlesham, Surrey, has a striking reflection pool with fountain jets, while Saddle Stones in Weybridge, Surrey, has an outdoor pool with feature fountains. Similarly, at Cavendish House, a magnificent north London property that won


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the Evening Standard’s Best Luxury Home award in 2016, the three-acre gardens – designed by Chelsea award-winners Cowley White – develop around a stunning stepped cascade. Both Saddle Stones and Cavendish House are part of Octagon’s bespoke service, which builds (or rebuilds) one-of-a-kind homes in unique landscapes to suit individual buyers’ requirements – landscaping at its finest. One bespoke scheme Joe is particularly proud of is a garden with a Spanish feel, specifically requested by a client for his parents. “He worked closely with us to create a fantastic home for his parents to live in, and wanted something truly special yet accessible for them to enjoy outdoors, too,” he recalls. “It was a large, wraparound, south-west-facing garden, and the design was done by Creepers. We put in some fantastic olive and fruit trees, and a koi carp pond just outside the kitchen doors. “A large patio area had two seating areas to relax in – one with a fire pit for evening entertainment – and a path winding up to a bespoke summer house at the end of the garden. We have had feedback that his father loves to sit there and look out over the lawn and his new home.” Recently, Joe has seen a rise in demand for what he calls ‘fusion’ gardens – schemes that juxtapose a formal layout with informal planting. “The structure is very rigid, with smart paving and paths, while the bedding plants have a more ‘country cottage’ feel. The result is something really different, and when



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6 we’ve shown new clients images of the work we’ve previously done, a lot now want to go down this route with their own gardens.” Generally, Octagon plans its green space at the outset of a development project. “Landscaping is one of the very first things that is formulated, as it needs to be submitted along with the planning application,” says Joe. The company then tends to turn to tried and tested contractors to deliver their vision. “We use Creepers for a lot of our schemes. It’s a multi-awardwinning landscape architect and we have worked with its team for more than 20 years. As a trusted supplier, it understands the Octagon ethos of perfection at every level, and we work together incredibly well. Its designers study our house plans to create the individual gardens and communal grounds.” That said, Octagon is open to working with other businesses. “If there is any brilliant talent out there that we are yet to discover, we are always happy to consider new people with fresh ideas and solutions. Being a luxury developer, we want to work with people who appreciate our clients’ needs and expectations.”

1 Spanish-style garden with bespoke summer house 2 Rear sunken terraces – the water feature at Upper Ribsden 3 Spanish-style garden 4 New mansion situated within the Totteridge Conservation Area 5 Grand Terrace with fountain foreground landscape, Richmond Lock 6 The gardens at a new Arts and Crafts-style house from Octagon Bespoke 7 A view of the gardens at the 19-acre Kingswood Warren Estate, Surrey

octagon Octagon is a British company founded in 1980 with the aim to design and build exceptional residential properties to the highest standards of specification and finish. W:

06/02/2018 10:06

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05/02/2018 14:29





FutureArch speaks to the City Design Group within Bristol City Council to find out about the changes being made in the city and how it engages with the community



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In 2015, Bristol was the first UK city to be named European Green Capital, and is known as a highly desirable place to live, as well as one of the UK’s highest economically performing cities outside of London. The City Design Group within Bristol City Council, which includes landscape architects and urban designers, works across projects in housing delivery, public realm and regeneration in addition to a small number of park projects. The mayor’s principles Richard Goldthorpe is the placeshaping team manager within the City Design Group. We ask Richard to explain how the group is assigned projects and objectives. “As part of a council, we have to work with the approach of whichever mayor is in place at the time,” he said. “The current mayor, Marvin Rees, has set out three key principles – economic vibrancy, a healthy population and communities, and attractive and well connected environments – as part of his ‘one city’ plan.” Currently within the council’s Growth and Regeneration directorate, City Design Group has evolved over time. The group has been in existence for more than 40 years, with records showing that, since 1995, the number of landscape architects within the council has only decreased by one. Depending on the requirements of a particular project, that project’s collaborators will be made up of individual members from each of the group’s workstreams.

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“Bristol has a huge number of heritage assets,” Richard tells us. “We have more than 4,000 listed buildings, a third of the city is within a conservation area, and 99 green spaces are designated historic parks and gardens. That is part of the context in which we work; we have substantially more heritage areas than other cities and so our work has to reflect that. It’s a context-led design approach.” Know your place According to Richard, an online tool created by the council, Know Your Place, provides the foundation for this context-led approach. “Know Your Place is a website that allows us to share information about an area with the local community, and for them to share information with us,” he explains. “We have won a number of awards for the website since it was designed and set up in 2011. “At the time there were significant cuts being made, and we knew there were going to be more. The idea for the website was all about how we could get communities to provide us with more information, so we developed this platform to be able to share the city’s historic mapping. That meant communities could add their data and share it with each other. It enriches our knowledge and became a key way of looking at the design process, both for us and also for developers.” Information that people can add to the website includes photographs and links to research. It has become a key tool for the local community in creating a map of Bristol’s history and culture. Another concept born of Bristol’s City Design Group is Legible City, which was created in the Nineties and has since been implemented in major cities across the world – including New York, London, and Moscow. You may well have seen it in action: Legible City is the information system behind the posts found in many city centres that provide information such as maps and bulletins, and thus has helped to shape the way that people perceive cities. Something made very clear by Richard is that engagement with the community is a huge part of the job, and something very important to the team at Bristol. With this in mind, we ask how the community is engaged during a project, and how the team discusses ideas and potential improvements with locals. “When we are undertaking a project, we always like to show the local community what the area will look like,” he says. “One of the ways in which we do this is to create visualisations for them to look

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at, which help them to better understand what it will look like and how it will work.” Small things A recurring theme in the projects Richard shows us are the subtle changes that can make a huge difference to the look and feel of a street. “We have the benefit of observing the way the city works, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists,” Richard explains. “In these instances, we are able to make targeted interventions to really improve the experience of walking through an area, or to tidy it up. For example, design can be used to help people understand how to use a crossing, and particularly to help drivers understand which parts of the road are pedestrian.” Subtle changes that have been made include the removal of a CCTV camera pole on Corn Street. By removing the pole and putting cameras on a nearby building instead, the appearance of the street has been dramatically improved, even opening it up for a market to be held there. Another example can be found at the bottom of Market Steps, where a pedestrian safety grid and dustbins have been removed, and an offset pedestrian crossing has been centred in line with the steps. “These kind of small scale changes can take quite a while to negotiate and implement, but they make a phenomenal difference to the way people view and use the area,” Richard says. On the topic of small details, council budgets are not a bottomless pit. Funding – or lack of – is



“SMALL SCALE CHANGES CAN TAKE A WHILE TO NEGOTIATE AND IMPLEMENT, BUT THEY MAKE A PHENOMENAL DIFFERENCE” 1 Bristol Harbourside, designed by Grant Associates ©City Design Group 2 South Bristol Housing photomontage ©City Design Group 3 Gainsborough Square Bristol ©City Design Group 4 Brunel Mile view to Temple Meads ©City Design Group & Richard Carman


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5 The Centre – Bristol ©City Design Group 6 Whiteladies Road ©City Design Group 7 South Bristol Housing photomontage ©City Design Group

always a hot topic when it comes to local authorities. However, the team at Bristol has proven that a small budget doesn’t mean nothing can be done to improve an area. “We do some small pop-up schemes based on a small community budget,” says Richard. “It’s all about greening a street by utilising strategic planters. “In many ways, these schemes are about adapting what is already there. For example, we




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will create some very simple planters around street trees. These are also demountable, giving us the flexibility to take them down or move them elsewhere.” What does the future hold for Bristol? “One of our roles as a strategic design team is to develop the stories around what these places could be like. To help with this, we have put together a public realm guide, which sets out our vision for the future of Bristol’s emerging Temple Quarter. This includes a hierarchy of spaces, showing exceptional spaces, key public realm sequences, and streets and spaces. We look at these to pinpoint the key pedestrian routes and decide how we can tie these public realm spaces together. “In terms of the future, we recognise that Bristol’s water assets are unique – we have a double watercourse running through the city – and are looking at how we can activate and make use of our key side walkways and bridges.”


06/02/2018 09:44

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31/01/2018 11:20 05/02/2018 14:31


Augmented REALITY neil manthorpe, principal landscape architect in SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, explains how augmented reality is revolutionising how we see and build our cities


ugmented reality (AR) is a live view of a physical environment that is enhanced by a computer generated visual – looking through your phone or tablet as though taking a photograph, and seeing additional visuals on screen. This is not to be confused with virtual reality, where the entire background is computer generated. Developers have been looking at augmented reality for a number of years, but the craze truly kicked off in 2016 when the game Pokemon Go was released, praised for getting people outside and encouraging them to explore new areas. How does this technology relate to the commercial landscaping industry, though? Principal landscape architect in SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business, Neil Manthorpe, believes that AR is part of the future of the industry. “The capabilities are here, it is just about finding the right way to use it,” he tells us.

1 Neil’s interest in AR is focused particularly around the Key to the City app, created by a team made up of personnel from the Atkins business and the lighting company Schréder for the Smarter Cities competition.



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“We had already had some initial ideas about how the digital landscape might be experienced,” he explains. “A big part of the brief for the competition was to create something that would encourage people to explore different parts of the City of London. We wanted to create something that was unique, an experience that essentially attracts people to a space that they might not normally visit. “We have extensive digital capabilities across Atkins including VR, AR and visualisations. We can utilise these digital tools so that the designer has a clear idea on how a project will be developing and the issues they may encounter before visiting the site. For Key to the City

we were coming at it from the angle of encouraging the user in the street to explore the city and projects – but the possibilities are great.” Key to the City is an educational app that allows you to unlock the hidden layers of the city to experience its rich heritage, history and culture. It does this by using AR, videos and information points, depending on where you are in London. The hope is that users will be encouraged to get out into London and use the spaces that have been created, particularly in areas where space is underutilised. Getting technical While Pokemon Go and other AR apps may look simple, with augmented images placed on a

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real-life background, the technology behind it is complex, and requires funding for a full launch. You may have noticed, when using apps such as Google Maps, that the GPS tracker recording your location can jump around, disrupting the accuracy of the AR perspective. “For this kind of app to work it really needs to know exactly where you are and what you are looking at,” Neil says. “You can either do this with a physical marker in the street, which the app recognises, or through the use of triangulation of your position through a Wi-fi network via a smart object like the Schreder Shuffle.” As well as providing a Wi-ifi network, the Shuffle can monitor pollution levels, the movement of people and provide charge points. The Shuffle comes as an integrated lighting column but can be adapted to fit into existing street furniture and onto buildings. So how can these plans be financed? “Every developer knows that just because an app is innovative and technically strong, it doesn’t mean people will purchase it to fund its ongoing development, particularly with so many free apps available. “Therefore, beyond having a high quality product, it’s important to consider all the various funding models available, including advertising, 5 sponsorship from the beneficiaries of the app or creating an interactive game that offers discounts. We’re currently in the process of looking at what’s the best option for Key to the City, ensuring a sustainable revenue stream that complements our vision for the user experience. As it’s an

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3 educational app, it would be great to have a heritage or cultural partner.” For the initial set-up of Key to the City, the team has linked it up with the City of London’s Churchyard Enhancement Programme, but Neil says there is the potential for this to be set up anywhere: “This doesn’t have to be limited to London, or even to cities. That is the work that we have been doing, but realistically this could be used in other places or events – festivals, for example.” The future Looking back at the history of a location via AR demonstrates what can be achieved on a wider scale – if there is potential to look back, it must be possible to look forward. “Absolutely,” Neil agrees. “It is certainly the way things are going, and I expect it will be used in the profession in the future. “At the moment you can

4 already create a visualisation or a video that shows you how something might look. The next step is to view that in real time when you are out on site – you can hold it up and it will show you what it will look like in its context. Things like Google Glass and even virtual reality headsets have started that. I don’t know exactly how it will unfold but it is definitely a very powerful communication tool.” More information on Key to the City can be found on the FutureArch website, including a video demonstration of the app.

1  The Key to the City app in Paternoster Square 2  Battling gladiators near the Guildhall Art Gallery 3  Key to the City can unlock hidden AR experiences 4  Churchyard historical figures experienced through AR 5  Peter Murray presenting the Smarter City Award to Neil Manthorpe and Simon Newcombe

atkins SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business is a design, engineering and project management consultancy. Together, SNC-Lavalin and Atkins help clients plan, design and enable major capital projects. W:

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06/02/2018 13:09


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06/02/2018 16:23


Golf course DESIGN


Golf course specialist International Design Group discusses how courses are designed for countries and climates around the world

1 Prestige Golfshire, India 2 The National, Azerbaijan

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he International Design Group (IDG) is a Bristol-based design practice that deals with the design, development, and consultancy for purpose-built residential, commercial, and sports facilities – in particular, golf. Offering golf course design, landscape architecture, building architecture, masterplanning, and interior design, IDG works on projects across the globe. Design Andrew Craven is the group director at the practice; a chartered landscape architect by training, he has been practising for nearly 20 years. What’s his background in the field? “I graduated as a landscape architect and then went on to construct golf courses,” he tells us. “I worked as a landscape architect before joining PGA Design Consulting, the golf course architecture company for the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) – which is now known as International 2 Design Group.”

We ask Andrew about the difference between working on traditional landscape architecture projects, and designing golf courses. “Designing a golf course is no different to any other kind of landscape project,” he says. “You discuss a brief of the project with a client, and you start with a survey of the site. You’re concerned with all the same issues, such as boundaries, water bodies and surfaces – all of the issues associated with commercial landscape projects. The key difference is that the specific ambition is to create a golf course, which is a very particular sport. “A typical golf course has 18 holes, with a par of 72. They are most commonly 7,000 yards in length, and often cover around 120 acres. There are thousands of different variables that make each course a unique challenge, for example in terms of the terrain that you’re dealing with, or the requirements of the client.” While International Design Group specialises in the design of golf courses, they do also complete other projects within the team. “We have an interior design team, and we have architects here as well, who deal with villas, club houses, large properties, and even office buildings,” Andrew explains. “Those teams have come about because, often, clients who have


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“THERE ARE THOUSANDS OF DIFFERENT VARIABLES THAT MAKE EACH COURSE A UNIQUE CHALLENGE” 3 asked us to design a golf course will then ask us to do the landscape, and take a look at how the clubhouse functions – these things snowball. As you solve one project for a client, they ask you to come back and look at a different one. You build up a relationship.” Planting Trees and other planting help to shape a course’s layout, as well as improving the aesthetic appeal and establishing an individual character for the area. “Typically, you use low-maintenance planting on a golf course,” Andrew says. “I nearly always push for indigenous species so that it’s environmentally stable. We stick to ornamental planting around the clubhouse and more formal areas, whereas out on the golf course itself our aim is to create a naturalistic landscape. When we’re working in places such as Korea, we are often asked to design golf courses that have ornamental gardens around them, which is a different standard of presentation, and that’s the way they like to approach it. We adapt our style for the particular region we’re working in.” As IDG works on golf courses across the globe, it inevitably has to work in a number of different climates. “We’re working in Pakistan at the moment, where we are dealing with a site that experiences two



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monsoons a year,” Andrew tells us. “We are looking at highs of 35ºC and lows of two or three degrees. “At the moment we’re looking at a project in Lithuania where the temperature can be as low as -16ºC in the winter, but a very cosy 30ºC in the summer. That’s quite a wet climate, and we’re also creating a project in Dubai in what is essentially a desert climate, so we deal with a lot of different areas that present different challenges. It’s all about overcoming those. The UK climate is actually just as tricky as these other climates – you just have to approach each one in a different way.”

3 The V Club, Lithuania 4 Aamby Valley Golf Course, India 5 Meland, Bergen, Norway 6 Carbonera Golf & Spa Resort, Cuba 7 Sueno Golf Resort, Turkey

Maintenance Golf courses are kept in fantastic condition, often by their own in-house greenkeepers. Does the design team at IDG have any input on maintenance? “Normally, during the construction of the golf course, we will bring in the greenkeeper and they will take on any advice that we have,” says Andrew. “This allows them to see how everything goes together. “We will routinely come back to report on how the maintenance is progressing. Compared to other landscape architecture projects, such as schools in the UK, we will put together quite a detailed maintenance plan. With the larger resorts we have to design intricate maintenance buildings, and these will house all the machinery, have specific wash-down areas to make sure that we’re not allowing petrol, diesel and other pollutants back into the water courses, and that materials are appropriately stored.” What project is Andrew most proud of being involved with? “There are so many – I’m proud to have worked on projects in Crete, Lithuania,” he says. “We also completed The National in Azerbaijan which was amazing.” Here’s to many more years of success.




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06/02/2018 16:25


Streets ahead? Thousands of healthy, mature street trees have been felled in Sheffield as part of a programme to improve road surfacing. Steve Frazer, principal landscape architect at Enzygo, explores the issue


heffield’s Streets Ahead programme has seen approximately 5,000 street trees felled in order to improve the roads – and sparked a war of attrition between Sheffield City Council and protesters. Headlines such as ‘Sheffield’s Street Tree Massacre’ have brought us stories of dawn felling, pensioner and councillor arrests, and high-level celebrity, political and expert condemnation. What is Streets Ahead? Streets Ahead is a £2bn public-private initiative between Sheffield City Council and Amey, tasked with improving and maintaining the quality of Sheffield’s roads for 25 years, starting in 2012. It sets out to upgrade and maintain all adopted roads and has been actively promoted by the council for the functional and environmental benefits that it will bring. If you have visited Sheffield, I’m sure you’d agree that these are laudable aims, given the city’s reputation for potholes. Lacking ambition However, Sheffield is known for much more than its potholes. The city is hailed as the greenest in Europe, with statuesque corridors of mature trees contributing to the character of many of its streets. Having moved to Sheffield in 2012, I was keen to know how the objectives of Streets Ahead would be reconciled with the city’s assets. I also wanted to know whether opportunities would be taken to improve the multifunctionality and efficiency of Sheffield streets, in line with aspirations for green infrastructure. This



could include traffic management initiatives, stormwater control measures, improved ecology, and so on. There are endless possibilities when it comes to what a street can accommodate, and Streets Ahead appeared to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the potential of Sheffield’s streets. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that the programme’s vision was narrowly conceived, without due consideration given to assets and opportunities, and would cause regrettable consequences throughout the city. Further cause for concern Rustlings Road was an early example that I became aware of; a number of healthy, mature trees had been identified as incompatible with the intended highway improvement. The reasons given for felling related to ‘damage and discrimination’ caused by the trees. ‘Damaging’ trees were those that the council claimed were causing harm to footpaths, while ‘discriminatory’ trees were those that were perceived as creating difficulties for elderly, disabled and partially sighted people (creating bumps in tarmac, etc.). Residents were concerned that these claims were being made spuriously, and that, if credible, they wouldn’t form an insurmountable challenge to the retention of the trees. Upon inspection, I agreed that the council was not endorsing a common-sense view. For example, a number of large, healthy trees that were important to street character, wellbeing and ecology were being proposed for removal due to small bumps they had caused in the pavement. It became evident that


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Rustlings Road was just one example of a city-wide policy, affecting thousands of streets and trees. The positions Sheffield City Council defends the contract’s ambitions for improving Sheffield’s streets, claiming that it will not result in a deterioration of a city asset, since it intends to replace felled trees. Members of the public who protest against the scheme passionately portray the benefits of mature trees, describing the enjoyment and wellbeing that the trees contribute to their lives. In addition, they speak about the practical functions performed by the trees and the benefits they offer the ecosystem (alleviating flooding, air pollution and the urban heat island affect), castigating the council for not considering these benefits at the outset of the project. The professional consensus is that a large proportion of trees within the contract cannot be justifiably removed on arboricultural or highway grounds, validating the protestors’ position. The most severe indictment relates to best practice regarding highway standards, which makes clear that concessions within streets between highway aspirations and trees are possible, and conventionally regarded as desirable. The common assertion is that Sheffield street trees represent a unique and essential asset to the city, and should be accommodated where practicable for amenity and environmental resilience. From the council’s perspective, it has identified a problem with bumpy roads and footpaths, and intends to solve it. This solution is logical if streets are only appreciated as conduits for conveying cars and people, and could accommodate no additional function. Understanding and exploiting project potential However, streets form a significant setting to our lives, accommodating journeys and activities, contributing to our health and wellbeing. More tangibly, streets house numerous practical functions and services, including the ability to communicate people, information and services. Green elements offer opportunities for amenity and function, and provide living sculptures that can support nature and ameliorate our environment. The task of good design here is to take opportunities and use resources economically, providing multifunctional streets that are integrated with, and beneficial to, the context. Given the complexities and inherent potential of a city street, such a project should be forged from a collaborative multidisciplinary team that includes arboriculturalists, landscape professionals, ecologists, and highway, civil

Sheffield Trees.indd 33


4 and drainage engineers, in conjunction with the community that the works are intended to benefit. This would have contributed a better understanding of opportunities, and innovative solutions that could have exploited the project’s potential. Streets Ahead is truthfully a highway project that is focused upon delivering smooth tarmac. It was likely formed with the best of intentions, to solve a single problem (potholes), but the objectives and delivery mechanisms derive from the narrow perspective of highway engineers and councillors. I am not criticising highway engineers, but I am criticising silo working – it offers a narrow view for what is important, does not embrace collaboration, and therefore does not exploit design opportunity. The programme needed a bolder vision that appreciated the potential of a street in its broadest sense, pursued by a multidisciplinary team that understood the assets. These proposals should have been developed alongside locals, to ensure that the project reflected community interests and promoted engagement and ownership. These feel like modest aspirations, given the project’s scale. Streets Ahead feels like an opportunity missed. The public has been frustrated, the council’s reputation has suffered, and the city will have a poorer environment. It’s a tough lesson, but hopefully one that has been learned by others.


1  Existing avenue of lime trees 2 T  he red shading gives an impression of the trees to be removed within the Streets Ahead programme, and the consequent effect. This represents approximately 40% of the trees along the route, all of which are healthy 3 T  ree identified for removal based on damage caused to the surrounding footpath 4 T  he number of people it takes to fell a tree, in the face of opposition 5 ‘ Streets Ahead Tree Replacement Information’ explaining grounds for tree removal

FutureArch February 2018


06/02/2018 10:03

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Caroline Birdsall, marketing manager at Millboard, explores the advantages and potential pitfalls of composite decking


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ot so long ago, the words ‘decking’ and ‘wood’ were inseparable. And, as nothing really beats the look of a wooden deck, it’s still the aesthetic people aspire to. The trouble is that a great natural look comes with not-so-great natural disadvantages. We’ve all encountered wooden decks that have rapidly lost their shine, suffered splitting, warping and rot, and which have become dangerously slippery in the wet – particularly after algae have set up home. Unless – and often despite – wooden decks being given regular treatments and maintenance, they can soon lose their initial appeal.

These problems have led to the development of different decking materials. All-plastic boards don’t deteriorate in the same way that wood does, and are less expensive, but they can bow and flex and generally look and feel, well, plastic. Composite decking boards are a more sophisticated solution which combine plastic with other materials to deliver a more genuine alternative to wood. Within the broad term ‘composite decking’ sits a wide range of different products. Most composites are made of WPC – wood polymer composites – which, as their name suggests, are a mix of wood pulp and plastic in varying ratios. One, Millboard, is unique in being an RMB (resin mineral board), formed from a combination of polyurethane and mineral stone flour. All offer significant advantages over wood. They do not warp or split, and rotting is slowed considerably, or in the case of some,

FutureArch February 2018


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eliminated entirely. Maintenance overall is massively reduced and can be removed entirely in the case of boards which are ‘capped’ with a top layer, or encased in a protective polymer layer. Where boards have this additional skin, there are also other benefits – in Millboard’s case, the layer enables fixings to be hidden because it re-forms over the fixings, providing a pleasing ‘lost head’ look to decking. These layers also provide another advantage over wood – their adhesion in the wet. Composite decks in most guises do not have the lethal tendency to turn into skating rinks that their wooden counterparts exhibit. Because capped composites repel rather than absorb moisture, as there is nothing for mould and algae to develop in. One other factor worthy of mention is composite boarding’s resistance to UV-fading. Although any surface will be affected by exposure to UV, in the case of composite boards the degree is negligible compared to natural wood equivalents. So, composite decking has a lot of advantages compared to wood, but what about the dilemma of aesthetic – people aspire to a wood look, so won’t anything else be a letdown? While that might have been true in the days when the first synthetic decks were produced, it’s certainly not the case now. The best high-end composites are virtually indistinguishable from wood and have become not just accepted but preferred materials for many projects, especially ones where the aesthetics, alongside the ability to handle heavy footfall, are a vital consideration. To give a few examples, Millboard decking provides the floor surface of John Lewis Oxford Street’s rooftop garden, the decking surface of the Floating Pocket Park in Paddington Basin, and the walkways and observation decks at the Dyfi Osprey reserve in Wales. Both the latter two are in semiaquatic environments where wood decking would be particularly prone to water damage. Millgate Homes (which are aimed primarily at the top end of the market – see the November issue of FutureArch) also choose non-wood decking from Millboard, as did Gras Architects for the stunning ‘Where Eagles Dare’ villa in Mallorca, which was shortlisted for the ‘Villa – Completed Buildings’ award at the 2017 World Architecture Festival in Berlin. These examples demonstrate how increasing numbers of architects and property owners are choosing composite decking that offers a real-wood look. In Millboard’s case, the authentic look is achieved through


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painstaking sourcing of real timbers, from which the boards are hand-moulded. Each one is then handfinished by skilled craftsman. Naturally, a premium wood look comes at a price. The more intricate the manufacture, the greater the cost – but also the truer the wood look delivered. Even the cheapest uncapped composite decking, which could never be mistaken for real wood, is typically more expensive than standard softwood decking. But once the ongoing cost of maintaining a wood deck and the longevity of composite ones are factored in, the lifetime cost swings in favour of the composites – even those at the premium end of the spectrum. The environmental argument for composites is also bolstered by their longevity and the absence of the need for periodic treatment with potentially harmful chemicals. The materials used to make composites are often from recycled sources, and the boards themselves may also be recyclable once they reach the end of their long lifetimes. The advantages of composites can be somewhat undermined if they are installed on a wood subframe. While the decking will protect anything below it from rain, a wooden sub-frame will still deteriorate faster than the deck it supports. Some composite decking manufacturers therefore offer all-plastic (typically recycled) sub-frame systems that are impervious to water and inedible by insect larvae. Such is the quality of today’s high-end composites that people assume they are wood. Their durability, minimal maintenance requirements and superior safety qualities have made them the natural choice for an ever-increasing range of commercial projects.


1 Floating Pocket Park, Paddington Basin, London ©Millboard 2 Millboard decking used to create a new rooftop terrace at Channel 4’s headquarters in Westminster, London ©Millboard


06/02/2018 09:47


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06/02/2018 11:21


LOW-ENERGYlighting FutureArch explores the benefits of low-energy lighting by asking the experts to talk us through the key pointS Sam Cox

Philip Milner


Images ©Paul Newman Landscapes

Sam Cox, sales manager at Landscapeplus: The main benefit we have found is that, previously you would get a voltage drop with halogen lighting, so you would have to localise your transformers, which would mean having to get the mains cable a lot closer to the point of lighting. With low-energy lighting, unlike halogen lighting, you haven’t got to trench an area out, you can run it along a surface if you want to – with low voltage, it is completely safe to do so.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN PERFORMANCE BENEFITS OF LOW-ENERGY LIGHTING? Philip Milner, head of technical at Lighting for Gardens Ltd: Without a doubt, LED optics have definitely gotten better recently. New, more powerful LEDs are now bright enough to light large trees and buildings, but, unlike traditional lights, they do not suffer from being switched on and off. This gives LEDs a huge advantage for anything that requires frequent switching, such as security lighting. With the touch of a button or app-based control, they can be switched or dimmed. Colour-changing LEDs can be used to change the mood, and even switch between warm and cool white. Stricter legislation has encouraged greater efficiency, with the result that inefficient lamps are being phased out, and LEDs are often the only products still available. But with careful selection, many halogen systems can be retrofitted with good quality LED lamps – offering dimmable, warm whites that produce nice soft lighting, specific beam angles or even colour-changing abilities. SC: Lumen per watt is generally how you would measure a light. A lot of people think that a watt is how much light you are getting out of a light – it’s not, it is the power that the light draws from. The number of lumens per power in low-energy light sources is 10 times better than it is for halogen light sources. They are far more reliable outside when compared to halogen, which is prone to blowing with temperature changes. In high-risk areas, such as alleyways, or near water, you don’t want the lighting going.


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BESIDES THE LOWER USE OF ENERGY, WHAT OTHER ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS DO THE LIGHTS OFFER? SC: LEDs are a lot more directional, whereas a halogen lamp works on a reflection basis. This means that with LEDs you can direct the light a lot more easily, perhaps onto something you want to highlight, rather than having the light just spilling out. You can also play around with theme angles. It is good for light pollution, but it is also good purely from an aesthetic point of view. You can focus on points or get a much wider spread if you want to. PM: Low-voltage LEDs are inherently safer in outdoor environments, and pose less risk of injury. Lower energy use, improved reliability and longer lifespans help them to be regarded as one of the most energyefficient artificial light sources available.

HOW DOES THE COST TO RUN THE LIGHTING COMPARE WITH ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS? SC: The cost of running can be directly calculated back to the wattage. For example, when we were selling halogen, our best-selling fitting was a 20W halogen lamp, now our best-selling fitting is a 1W LED lamp – it is literally a 20th of the price to fire up. When you start working it out with the watt output, and how much it is per year, you can quite quickly offset the price of an LED compared to halogen just with the savings on your electricity bill, so it is much cheaper. PM: Cheaper running costs have been well documented, but good-quality LED outdoor light fixtures are now much more affordable than they used to be, as well as being efficient. Some LEDs don’t cost much more than the halogen lamps they replace. Also, in a garden, the lower power consumption is a big advantage, because it allows longer cable runs with less volt drop. Fewer transformers are needed for lowvoltage lighting circuits.



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Images ©Paul Newman Landscapes

PM: The life expectancy for LEDs is much better than it is for most of the lamps they have replaced, meaning that manufacturers can bond the LEDs into their fittings. But even good LEDs don’t last forever, so with our more expensive fittings we make use of retrofit LEDs or replaceable LED modules, which allow for easy replacement. SC: The life expectancy is significantly different. Most of the top-end LEDs will now last 60,000 hours, whereas life expectancy on a halogen is around 3,000. This is much better for contractors and for maintenance. We do a lot of talks with the Society of Garden Designers, and with BALI, and that is one of the main selling points. From a contractor’s point of view, they don’t want the phone call back from a client saying the lighting has gone and there is a blown bulb. They see it as the contractor’s obligation to go back and change it. You just don’t get that with LEDs.

06/02/2018 10:00




Client Crest Nicholson Size of project Approx. 0.08 ha Landscape architect LT Studio Architect Cullinan Studio Soft landscaping Boningale Nurseries


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he regeneration of the docks by Crest Nicholson is one of the biggest redevelopments in Bristol for decades, with the Bristol Harbourside development described as a pioneering scheme. Having been a wasteland of disused rail tracks and derelict gas works for the preceding 40 years, the site is now a vibrant residential retail and commercial quarter on the edge of the city centre. Landscape architects LT Studio completed the landscape design for Building 3A, a seven-storey building that forms part of the Bristol Harbourside Masterplan. A technically challenging project built on a podium slab above a basement car park, the scheme was complex to design and build, and is the final piece of the jigsaw in the wider masterplan following 11 years of development. The development is metaphorically linked with its historical context. The site lies at the junction between


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the original ‘Rope Walk’ – a 300m-long piece of open ground used to produce rope for the busy shipping industry during the 19th century – and the alignment of Lamb Street, which still remains intact to the north of the site. LT Studio used the geometries of these two historic alignments to generate a rigorous structure for the landscape arrangements of the courtyard spaces at Building 3A. The south-facing, U-shaped courtyard surrounds the residential scheme, providing good-quality outdoor space for all residents. At ground level, each plot has an individual external space, both private and semiprivate. Timber decking and planter arrangements along Canon’s Way – the main street – provide a buffer from the traffic, further green outdoor space for local residents, and a concealed natural vent to the basement car park. The attractive courtyard symbolically marks a single point of arrival and reinforces the use of the building. Linear mounded ground forms have been introduced to add visual interest, with low level seating provided at the edge of the mounds. Summer-flowering shrubs have been introduced at the entrances to the private properties, adding seasonal colour. The landscape across the masterplan has a strong vernacular, which has been used to inform the design of the external spaces and simultaneously helps to integrate the space. Building 3A looks to provide a seamless link with precedents set across the wider Bristol Harbourside development, mirroring the typology of nearby Building 4. Private and public spaces at ground level have been replicated, along with surface finishes and materials, to ensure there is a sense of continuity. A key area of the project was building in sustainability, with a sustainable water strategy, an ecology strategy, and an efficient lighting strategy wherein the lighting is time-controlled and activated only at certain times of day. The water strategy sees a surface attenuation system placed above the podium space, which collects rainwater runoff from the roof and controls the water’s flow into the mains drainage system. The below-ground water storage provided is linked to the wider Bristol Harbourside flood attenuation system, which in turn links to existing SuDS systems. The ecology strategy was provided by ecological consultancy Biodiversity by Design. The scheme represents an uplift in numbers of plant species numbers in comparison to the original


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site, predevelopment. Within the private inner courtyards, growing space has been provided for the residents, with a variety of fruiting species. Bergenia purpurascens, Salvia nemorosa ‘Lubecca’, Buxus sempervirens, Geranium x oxonianum ‘Wargrave Pink’, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ were also specified, while Vinca minor, Pachysandra terminalis and Alchemilla mollis provide groundcover and white Clearwater tulips and Allium giganteum give spring interest. Accessibility was also an important aspect of the design, with design standards adopted specifically in relation to Universal Design standards, and wheelchair access a key consideration. The courtyard features ramped access from the street, and the site is fully accessible externally. The residential offering, along with the accessible high-quality public realm, will bring additional occupants to the Harbourside, supporting local businesses, increasing footfall and adding to the vibrancy of the area. The open feel of the external space surrounding the apartments encourages locals and visitors to linger, enjoying the planting and restful atmosphere that the courtyard offers. Overall, this development has redefined what people consider to be the heart of Bristol, shifting the emphasis west and opening up a new quarter of the city.

1 Bristol Harbourside Building 3A 2  Semi-private external spaces 3  Accessible courtyard with ramped access from street 4  Uplift in plant species 5 Concealed natural vent to basement car park 6  Linear mounded ground forms

LT STUDIO LT Studio is an award-winning creative landscape design practice with extensive experience in waterfront developments and public realm, including parks and squares, and housing and healthcare projects. W:

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Robert Bray Associates Landscape architects and SuDS designers Robert Bray Associates Hydraulic and civil engineers McCloy Consulting Engineers Ltd Main contractor FM Conway Ltd Landscape contractor Dolwin & Gray Client and project management London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Size of site 2,665m2







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n 2013, the head teacher of Randolph Beresford School, together with the White City Residents’ Association, approached the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham (LBHF) with an idea for their community. They recognised that the road in front of the school, with its daily clash of car and pedestrian drop-off and pick-up, was unsafe and unhealthy. They also identified the need for a space where communities could hold events – not just the annual fair, but also seasonal markets. Their proposal was to restrict traffic within the stretch of Australia Road in front of the school, and remodel the space to create an events space. In the remodel, one thing needed to remain: the low wall in front of the school, which had seen two generations of small feet trot along it on their way to school. The site The site area was wider than the highway; with the school as a key stakeholder, existing car park and landscape areas between the school building and the pavement were available to incorporate into the design. At the time, LBHF was looking for a landmark retrofit SuDS project that would demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of a green infrastructure approach to flood mitigation. The White City proposal was adopted as an opportunity for such a project. “We don’t see SuDS as a separate discipline to landscape architecture, we see water management as another layer of functionality,” comments Kevin Barton, landscape architect at Robert Bray Associates. “For us, the idea of a space that both serves the community and manages water is not a conflicting interest. We take delight in making sure that layer of water functionality adds something positive to the experience of a space.” The community The White City estate is the sixth most deprived local area (LSOA) in England, as defined by the 2007 Index of Multiple Deprivation. As such, initiatives around sustainability, while considered important by many residents, are not high on most people’s priorities. School pick-up and drop-off was clearly a problem, with parents describing it as being stressful and like “a military operation”; they described having to park as close to school entrance as possible, including on the yellow zigzag lines or even in the road, push the kids out and then drive away while negotiating with the cars of other parents doing the same. Clearly, this level and pattern of vehicle movements directly outside the school entrance, on a relatively narrow road, created

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risk and air quality implications for the children. This created a vicious cycle, encouraging more parents to drive their children to school, even from short distances away. Interaction between many parents was limited to fraught car encounters, and the character of the street’s environment meant families on foot generally rushed away for the peace of home. The design Bridget Joyce Square was named by the community after a well-loved local childcare worker who influenced the lives of many community members over her 50-year career. Fittingly, the everyday functionality of the new park is aimed at families and children, with playful ingredients turning an unsafe and air polluted route to school into a fun and adventurous one. Raised basin walls introduce younger children to engage in supervised wall-walking until they are confident enough to tackle the ‘Wiggly Wall’ alone, while the more adventurous children, teenagers and adults skip, scooter, cycle and even Airwheel along it. A new gateway, emphasised by a contrast paving strip and bridge across the main basin, creates a positive link between the new park and the playground that lies opposite the school. While the extensive granite basin walls can be sat on, formal benches have been provided throughout, with a cluster outside the more open school entrance to enable parents to meet while waiting for their children. To the wider community, the new space is a safe and pleasant route to walk or cycle through, or to pause in peace and quiet when the children are in school. The community has already held a number of events in the park, including a Christmas fair with a market and a White City Enterprise event, while the sustainable transport charity Sustrans has held a Healthy Streets day there. The response The response to the project from the community has been extremely positive. Ninety per cent of those surveyed said it had changed how they felt about the space, and commented that the street “feels safer” and is “more relaxed” and “open”. “It’s been very heart-warming,” says Kevin. “We are very proud of the scheme. It’s not often in your career that you can make such a difference to people’s lives; when you can, it’s one of the key joys of landscape architecture. The awards we have received for this project are amazing, but the most rewarding part is the feedback from the people who use the space.”


7 1R  ainsculpture, raingarden and seating at the new entrance 2  The whole community enjoys the ‘wiggly wall’ 3  One of the formal SuDS basins 4  The wiggly wall running through the main SuDS basin 5 Planting chosen for SuDS functionality 6 Careful plant choice provides seasonal structure and texture 7 The stone ribbon provides a follow-trail through the park

Robert Bray Associates Robert Bray Associates has been at the forefront of SuDS since 1996, developing an environmental approach that delivers atttractive, safe and useful solutions. W:

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he recently completed Vestre Fjordpark by ADEPT is a recreational learning and experience landscape that generously contributes to the full experience of its unique site by the Limfjord. It is the nuanced balance between the natural landscape, the activities and functions and the park’s many daily users that adds life and local character to the site. The Limfjord itself, the largest fjord landscape in Denmark, provides the grand potential for Vestre Fjordpark. Here, water, birds, fish, fields, beach and meadows come together to provide the setting for a wide variety of physical activities and outdoor facilities related to both nature and the city. The park is a 165,000m2 recreation area that supports a range of activities, including swimming,



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1 ball games, water sports and parkour. The area also features a multitude of social aspects, such as playgrounds, cafés and barbecue areas, all surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the fjord. It provides a gathering place for anyone – from those who wish to take part in adrenaline-pumping sports activities, to those who want to have a quiet coffee and enjoy nature. The park, which is open 24 hours a day and is free to access, is separated into several key areas, including the beach and the Tang – a large sandy bathing area with a 50m pool and a climbing wall. The area is open so that the sun can be enjoyed by those using the wooden deck. There is also the Killen area, characterised by open grassland; this is an open space where people can play ball games or engage in other recreational activities. There is also a child-friendly cycle track built in the area, as well as an asphalt pier that is perfect for running on.


Collaborators GHB Landscape Architects, Orbicon Rekommanderet Photographer Rasmus Hjorthoj Coast Studio Project value Appox. 60m kr. (approx. £7m) Size of project 160,000m2 Build time 2015-2017

1 The building is located between fjord and in-land pools 2 Hybrid of playground and stairs 3 Green roof and stairs connects the roofscape to ground level 4 The pools are a space for all sorts of water related sports 5 The building elements play with space and structure 6 The active roofscape adds an extra layer of life and play to the park 7 All paths lead to the isthmus and the build structure

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FutureArch February 2018

Photography ©Rasmus Hjorthoj (



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8 Finally, there is the forest area, which includes twisted staircases and towers with bird cages. From a distance, it appears as a light forest of oak trees, creating an amazing view. There are covered tables and benches in the arrival area, and several freestanding tables and benches throughout the development. Here people can enjoy the view from the 15m-high sculptural tower, created by the artist Thomas ‘FOS’ Poulsen. The vision behind the project was to encourage people to have more contact with

the fjord by establishing better movement between land and sea. At the same time, the project seeks to strengthen the story of the landscape with a multifunctional building structure that frames the many potential activities on the water. The precise cut between the two water spaces is defined by the isthmus, binding together landscape and built structure – the experiences of fjord, activities and park all become one. Vestre Fjordpark was completed in collaboration with landscape architect GHB, and was among the Danish Landscape Award 2017’s three finalists.

10 8 The building blends into its surroundings 9  From the active roofscape there are views to the fjord beyond 10  Detail from green roof 11  Springboard diving is part of the daily activities



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ADEPT is based in Copenhagen and works in the fields of architecture and urbanism, with a specific focus on the human scale in cities and buildings. W:

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06/02/2018 14:16



Platipus we take a look at some of the prestigious projects that incorporate products from tree anchoring specialist Platipus

One Tower Bridge, London, UK Platipus is proud to have been the preferred supplier for all tree anchoring systems on this BALI Grand Award-winning project One Tower Bridge is a prestigious flagship project by Berkeley Homes, offering a stunning mixed-use development directly adjacent to Tower Bridge – one of London’s most iconic landmarks. The project was multiphased and logistically challenging, as cranes were required to lift and plant mature trees at both ground and podium level. All landscaping and external works were delivered by Maylim, which was awarded the coveted Grand Award at the 2017 BALI National Landscape Awards. The company's attention to detail was highlighted throughout this high-pressure project, and its ability to overcome huge challenges was key to its award success. Scotscape carried out the soft landscaping over a 27-month period. The project’s urban environment,

Sheraton Park, Doha, Qatar Platipus’s tree anchoring systems were specified to secure mature palm trees with challenging rootball sizes and small concrete planting pits


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together with the presence of buried services, meant that a combination of Platipus D-MAN and Deadman Fixing Systems were chosen for their high quality and reliability, providing unrivalled stability to all of the trees. The completed gardens now offer beautiful and relaxing surroundings, and Platipus is proud to have been the preferred supplier for all tree anchoring systems on the project.

This development creates a renewed public green space covering the area from the Doha Bay to the Sheraton Hotel. The project included the design and creation of a new public park and a two-storey underground car park accommodating around 2,000 vehicles. Platipus’s underground Deadman Fixing Systems with Plati-Mat were specified in order to provide not only a clean and safe finish to the public space, but also to secure these transplanted, mature palms in their concrete planting pits without jeopardising the waterproofing that protects the underground car park beneath. Platipus was the professionals’ choice because it provided anchor testing and specification guidance for the landscape architect, including AutoCAD drawings and on-site installation training for the landscape contractor, with continual technical support to all parties throughout the duration of the project.

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The High Line, New York, USA A selection of Platipus Deadman Fixing Systems with Plati-Mat were used to transform this stunning 1.45-mile tourist attraction Spanning 1.45 miles along the Lower West Side of Manhattan, the High Line was originally constructed between 1929 and 1934 as part of the New York Central Railroad. In 1999, when the High Line was threatened with demolition, the Friends of the High Line group was formed to support the preservation and reuse of the structure. In 2002, the City of New York committed to transform the High Line into a one-of-akind park, with innovative design being central to the vision. The goal was to create a public landscape as unusual and unexpected as the High Line itself. The three-story railroad has now been repurposed as a public open space that attracts nearly five million visitors annually. The park’s innovative design converted an industrial trestle of steel and concrete into a green roof that twists and turns its way through the city. The transformation of the park only allowed for a small amount of soil above the concrete and waterproofing layer installed over the existing deck. As a result of these challenging on-structure planting conditions, a selection of Platipus Deadman Fixing Systems, utilising concrete sleepers and engineered soil, were used to stabilise the trees over the green roof. Tens of thousands of people have been involved in the High Line’s transformation. The park embodies their desire to make something wonderful for future generations, and Platipus is honoured to be part of that transformation.

PLATIPUS Platipus Anchors has been a leading supplier of professional tree anchoring and irrigation systems for more than 30 years. W:

Responding to requests from garden designers and the landscape community, Platipus has launched Platipus Direct, a new UK online shop that allows customers to order products at a time convenient to them (24/7). Providing customers order before 11am, products will be delivered the next working day (UK mainland). Free delivery is also available on orders over £300 (excluding VAT). Customers will receive the same excellent service and support through Live Chat or Freephone Hotline (0808 169 5060). However, if you would prefer to speak to or order directly with a Platipus Team member, you can still do this using the same Freephone Hotline number. Platipus Direct

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Inspiring beautiful landscapes

Goodmans Field 01708 867 237 enquiries

3 - March - FutureArch - FP - Jubilee Gardens.indd 1 Advert template.indd 46


Client: Berkeley Homes


Contractors: Elite Landscapes & Acer Landscapes


Products: Silver Grey Granite & Tier Walling Panels

06/02/2018 13:27:25 06/02/2018 13:37

FutureArch February 2018  
FutureArch February 2018