LDA and Willerby complete public realm for London's "digital quarter"

LDA Design and contractor Willerby Landscapes have completed the public realm for Here East, formerly the press and broadcast centres for the London Olympics 2012.

LDA completes Here East public realm. Copyright: LDA Design / Robin Forster
LDA completes Here East public realm. Copyright: LDA Design / Robin Forster

Here East is a major development of 1.2m square feet in Hackney Wick. It has become a thriving commercial space with state-of-the-art infrastructure for technology and innovation, including London's largest data centre.

Tenants include Loughborough University, Hackney Community College, Infinity SDC broadcasting BT Sport, Studio Wayne McGregor and a new research centre for University College London.

LDA Design worked with architect Hawkins Brown to create a public realm which will support the social life of the campus and local community.

It features a variety of environments, including the canalside, which suit a range of activities. Circular timber benches and in-ground lighting create small sociable spaces within larger open spaces for events and pop-ups. Yard spaces will be used for artists and craftspeople to design and manufacture their creations on site.

Willerby started work on site at the end of 2014, carrying out hard and soft landscape works. The contractor installed granite-set speed tables in the roads, realigned pavements, installed paving and furniture, and planted hedges, meadows, new lawns, 100 trees and more than 3,000 bulbs. Willerby's in-house carpenters also laid more than 1,300m2 of decking for a roof terrace.

Copyright LDA Design / Robin Forster

The landscape reflects the industrial aesthetic of the site and its renovated buildings, with existing surface finishes incorporated in the palette. Perennial wildflower planting provides a physical connection to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where LDA Design led masterplanning and detailed design and Willerby carried out much of the landscape installation.

Kath Kok of LDA Design commented: "Hackney Wick has kept its distinctive entrepreneurial character, and Here East itself feels purposeful and unembellished. The public realm is designed to respond to this, to be flexible, and to ensure the buildings and public realm work as one to attract the makers of the future".

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