Living-wall technology has helped a Sheffield-based landscape designer win an international competition to upgrade the area surrounding a major airport in China.
Proposals from Weddle Landscape Design were shortlisted along with those from two Chinese firms. However, judges of the Ningbo Airport improvement scheme favoured the UK firm's vision, which includes 1km of green walls.
Weddle's interpretation of the city's name - peaceful wave in English - features two 500m-long walls up to 6m high along the airport approach road with sculptured scrolls and hedges. The design will incorporate 200,000 small, locally grown plants, which have been selected to survive the extreme seasons of eastern China.
The project is set to begin later this year with completion expected next summer. However, Weddle principal Mike Browell said China currently lacked the necessary technical knowledge needed to develop the living wall aspect of the designs.
"They don't produce the standard of work on this type of design that we do in the UK because they don't have contractors that can build and install living walls," he added. "They may have to look to the UK and Europe for a contractor that can plan and manage this type of project."
SKILLS TRANSFER OPPORTUNITIES TO FILL HORTICULTURE GAPS IN CHINA
Weddle principal Mike Browell, who has designed more 20 landscape projects in China, said there were clear gaps in the Chinese landscape design and nursery management market that professionals from the UK should be looking to fill.
"They are expert in parks and large scale horticulture but the problem is they have no knowledge of the latest technology in green walls and roofs and how to develop them but there is a definite interest out there," he said.
Getting involved in the nursery and landscape trade on the other side of the world was a big undertaking but Browell said he expected to begin to see European and UK firms teaming up with the Chinese.
"Now is the time for some bright well-trained horticulture specialists to go out to China and teach the nursery industry there the latest growing techniques we are using," he added.