Planting as an art form: ecologically-tuned, aesthetically aware. Planting as an essential: creating healthy cities and liveable places
Project Title: London Olympic Park Date of Completion: 2008 - ongoing Planting Design: Nigel Dunnett and James Hitchmough with Sarah Price and LDA Design/Hargreaves Associates
Project File: The London Olympic Park Nigel Dunnett in the 'Olympic Gold Meadows' at the London Olympic Park
The London Olympic Park is the largest new urban park to be developed in Europe for 150 years. Situated in Stratford, East London, the park is highly innovative and is based on an ambitious long-term vision for transforming a world-class visitor destination into a regional park catering for local communities.
The masterplan for the park has been developed by a consortium of the British landscape architecture practice, LDA Design, with the American landscape architecture practice, Hargreaves Associates.
Professors James Hitchmough and Nigel Dunnett of the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield were appointed in 2008 as principal horticultural and planting design consultants for the Olympic Park, working with LDA/Hargreaves.
Their role has been to develop a whole-site planting strategy, and to produce concepts and detailed proposals for the herbaceous (non-woody) vegetations in the park. The planting approach is highly ambitious and revolutionary for a major UK urban park, being driven by biodiversity and sustainability objectives, whilst also providing for an outstanding aesthetic experience. They are advising for the park in ‘games year’ (2012), and also for ‘transformation’ (2012-2014) when the park is converted to public use.
The Olympic Park comprises two different character areas: the North Park which has a more extensive and informal character, and the South Park, which includes the main Olympic Stadium and has a more urban character. Plantings in the North Park largely represent designed versions of native UK habitats and celebrate native biodiversity. They include species-rich meadows of different types; wetland plantings, including rain gardens and bioswales; woodland underplantings, and dramatic perennial ‘lens plantings’. Plantings in South Park focus on visual drama and have a strong horticultural basis. They include the 2012 Gardens, Display Meadows and the ‘Fantasticology’ art installation.