BALI Awards 2009: Excellence rewarded

Landscape skills and best practice were recognised at the BALI Awards, reports Magda Ibrahim.

Northala Fields: conical landforms created using waste material from local demolition schemes. Image: BALI
Northala Fields: conical landforms created using waste material from local demolition schemes. Image: BALI

Despite the economic downturn, landscape firms have stayed positive by celebrating industry excellence.

The BALI Awards 2009 featured a variety of exemplar projects. Now in its 33rd year, the awards pay tribute to landscapers and designers who have demonstrated exceptionally high standards.

BALI chief executive Sandra Loton-Jones explained: "The BALI National Landscape Awards showcase the best of the best of the landscaping industry, and not forgetting the outstanding achievement of designers, industry employers, interior landscapers, educators and students."

She added: "The large amount of entries this year shows the level of dedication to the landscape industry that BALI members have, despite these difficult times."

As well as highlighting the work carried out on the ground, the awards also recognised the commitment of the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) president Antoine Berger.

The Grand Award was given to Scottish landscape contractor Water Gems (Alba) for its work at Inverleith Terrace in Edinburgh.



Grand Award
Water Gems (Alba)

Domestic Garden Scheme: Construction Cost Less Than £20,000

Domestic Garden Scheme: Construction Cost Between £20,000 and £50,000
Garden Builders

Domestic Garden Scheme: Construction Cost Between £50,000 and £100,000
Hillier Landscapes

Domestic Garden Scheme: Construction Cost Between £100,000 and £250,000
Water Gems (Alba)

Domestic Garden Scheme: Construction Cost More Than £250,000
Thompson Landscapes

Domestic Garden Scheme: Maintenance Only
Hambrook Landscapes

Soft landscaping: Under 1ha
Frosts Landscape Construction

Soft Landscaping: Over 1ha
Veolia Environmental Services

Hard Landscaping: Under £300,000
Blakedown Landscapes (SE)

Hard Landscaping: Between £300,000 and £1.5m
Blakedown Landscapes (SE)

Hard Landscaping: Over £1.5m
McKean & Company (Glasgow)

Land Renewal and Regeneration Scheme
CR Swift Landscaping

International Award
Beijing Tsinghua Urban Planning & Design Institute

Landscape Design Excellence Award
Andy Sturgeon

Best Use of Lighting Award
Thompson Landscapes

Grounds Maintenance: Single Sites
Enterprise PLC

Grounds Maintenance: Multiple Sites
Reliance Landscapes

Grounds Maintenance of Business & Private Grounds

Reliance Landscapes

Interior Landscaping Installation
OCS Horticulture

Interior Landscaping: Maintenance
Planters Horticulture

Rainwater Harvesting
Frosts Landscape Construction

Best Newcomer
Harlequin Landscapes

Community Involvement
Visible Changes

Special Award: Recycled Materials
CR Swift Landscaping

Employer of the Year Award

Grace Landscapes

Geoffrey Chalk Travel Sponsorship

Rebecca Cowley

The BALI Recognition Award
Antoine Berger, president, European Landscape Contractors Association



Soft Landscaping: Under 1ha

Winner Frosts Landscape Construction
Project Ropemaker Place, London
Landscape architect Townshend Landscape Architects
Plants Robin Tacchi Plants

A series of staggered terraces on a 20-storey development in the City of London provided more than its fair share of challenges for contractor Frosts Landscape Construction.

The planting is modified over the floors to reflect light levels, temperature and wind variation and the density of planting allows for plants not suited to their new environment to be removed, while retaining the overall effect conceived by the designers.

The judges commented: "The degree of difficulty presented by this project has to be seen to be believed. The contractor was given a concept to turn into reality and achieved this by combining outsourced expertise with its in-house landscaping professionalism. It was a privilege to see the reality created by experts in their field."

Permeable paving allows rainfall to be channelled into grey water storage for reuse in the building and on the soft landscape elements. This aspect of the project helped Frosts pick up the BALI Rainwater Harvesting award as well.


Domestic Garden: Over £250,000

Winner Thompson Landscapes
Project Private residence, Hertfordshire

With a track record in major residential garden schemes, Thompson Landscapes excelled itself with a private project in Hertfordshire. After winning the BALI Domestic Garden Scheme over £250,000 category in 2007, the firm is back this year to pick up another prize.

The extensive scheme demanded the highest levels of landscape engineering competence and design flair. A strong sense of formality dominates to help define the functions of large open space and smaller, more discreet areas for family entertaining or relaxation.

A sweeping driveway in fan-laid yellow-beige granite setts guides visitors from the entrance gates up to the front of the property or off to the stable block converted for guests. The formal gardens surround the property with pathways, steps and terraces in high-quality sandstone linking areas.

The judges remarked: "The construction quality of this project is flawless in every aspect, creating a pristine showroom garden effect. The contractor is to be congratulated on an accomplished demonstration of the landscaper's art."


Domestic Garden Scheme: Maintenance Only

Winner Hambrook Landscapes
Project Meon Place, Southampton

Attention to detail is second to none at the country garden of Meon Place, a second home in Southampton. The garden contains hundreds of metres of diverse hedges, all requiring significant care and maintenance.

Clipped Chinese topiary and box pyramids sit amid existing herbaceous and shrub borders, all of which are beautifully maintained. The extensive lawns have to be kept well mown with straight lines and the steep slopes between the lawns are all well maintained, according to the BALI judges.

They noted: "This is a beautifully tended garden, very much in keeping with the property and surrounding environment. The beds and borders are weed-free and the slightly wavy deep cut border/bed edges are entirely in keeping with the character of the garden - very neat but fairly relaxed."

Other firms recognised in this category are Transform Landscape Design & Construction for South Lodge in Guildford and Frosts Landscape Construction for Ropemaker Place in London.


Grounds Maintenance: Single Site

Winner Enterprise PLC
Project St James's Park, London

Enterprise PLC scored a hat-trick in this category, scooping not only the principal prize but two others as well. Its work at St James's Park impressed judges for its excellent floral schemes, high standards and noticeable lack of litter.

The Royal Parks-owned site has open-all-hours access, which pushes grounds management and maintenance boundaries to the extreme. The contract also covers the adjacent Green Park along with other important locations including Buckingham Palace, Memorial Gardens and 10 Downing Street.

More than 6.5 million visitors a year put huge demands on the green space. The judges recognised the professionalism and ability of the contractor to meet these demands.

They commented: "Both client and contractor are to be complimented on their joint vision for maintaining this national gem. Congratulations to the entire team on an exceptional entry."

Enterprise was also recognised for its green waste recycling facility at Kensington Gardens and its high-quality seasonal bedding at Hyde Park.


Hard Landscaping: Between £300,000 and £1.5m

Winner Blakedown Landscapes (SE)
Project Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground, London

Ambitious plans to create the capital's largest open-air art gallery were realised last year when the parade ground of this former Army camp was transformed into space for the University of Arts.

Renowned artist Anish Kapoor officially opened London's "gallery without walls" at Chelsea College of Art and Design. The Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground measures 3,500sq m and hosts more than a million people every year.

The highly imaginative design uses various surfacing materials, including areas of granite setts incorporating the sweeping curves of the lighting scheme. The granite areas conceal fixed lighting points to illuminate students' work.

The judges said: "This imaginative, challenging and very public scheme has been executed to a very high standard by the contractor, whose work is now on show alongside the students' art."


Land Renewal and Regeneration Scheme

Winner CR Swift Landscaping
Project Northala Fields, Northolt
Designer Form Associates/LDA Design

This iconic scheme, designed by Form Associates director Peter Fink, is instantly recognisable alongside the A40 in Northolt, London.

The conical landforms have been created using waste material from several nearby demolition schemes, including the White City shopping area and the old Wembley Stadium.

There are four hills and a fifth is under discussion. Around 500,000 cubic metres of waste have been diverted from landfill. The judges considered the scheme to be an outstanding example of closing the recycling loop. They were so impressed that it was also awarded a Best Use of Recycled Materials prize.

The judges commented: "The contractor is to be congratulated on executing a major landscaping feature that will be seen by millions on their commute to and from London."


Community Involvement

Winner Visible Changes
Project King George's Field Playscape, Hanwell
Designer Groundwork London

Working closely with landscape architects from Groundwork London, the team from Visible Changes created a fun, playful landscape.

King George's Field Playscape forms part of a small yet popular local community park surrounded on two sides by residential roads and overlooked by a housing block on the other side.

The 1,800sq m space was originally a tired old playground. The aim was to achieve full consultation with the people who would use the site. Local young people were involved in activities such as an arts project to paint the construction site hoardings, design workshop sessions and visits to tree nurseries.

The site features tunnels reclaimed from old drain pipes, timber from old sea groins and logs from fallen trees combined with popular play equipment such as swings and slides.


Grounds Maintenance: Multiple Sites

Winner Reliance Landscapes
Project Goodman Business Parks

Work at four business sites helped Reliance Landscapes, a specialist division of the Reliance Group, win this category.

The client, Goodman Business Parks, has a policy of maintaining the prominent areas of its locations in Bracknell, Coventry, Farnborough and Kettering with quality turf, shrubs and trademark water features.

According to the judges, all areas were well manicured with excellent horticultural practices evident throughout. The ongoing phased landscape improvements of shrub and grass renewal were also impressive.

The judges said: "The contractor is meeting the client's exacting standards and producing outstanding landscape maintenance works on all sites. This is a credit to both and testament to a successful partnership where standards are set high and invariably achieved."

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