Beijing Games designer shares expertise

London has a lot to live up to if it is to match the 2008 Beijing Olympics’ landscaping, industry delegates believe after Chinese landscape architect Professor Hu Jie presented his plans in London last week.

Landscapers, growers, planners and designers discussed the issues at an HTA-organised seminar, where Hu highlighted cutting-edge environmental engineering, tradition, local plants and lengthy planning as key elements in his estimated £600m Olympic landscape design. London’s may cost £100m. Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) park and public realm project sponsor John Hopkins said: I’ve been talking to Professor Hu about philosophical aspects [of the Beijing landscaping]. We were discussing the idea of Chinese culture and his approach, going with nature. It’s tremendous what they’re doing in China, overlaying tradition with a sustainability agenda, respecting that tradition and understanding Chinese culture through landscaping. That’s something we’re trying to do at the Olympic Park. We’re getting the tier-one contractor on board at the moment. Big trees will be the first package when that happens. The contractor will be in place in the summer. HTA-seminar chairman Tim Edwards said: I hope this says to the ODA that what it will be following from Beijing is not a ‘Mickey Mouse’ landscape. The Olympics could be a catalyst for a new era in landscaping. It’s all on whether that challenge is taken up. The legacy of the London Games, I hope, will be to see exemplary methods of delivering landscapes that start to take us into the era where the client wants to invest in the best possible landscapes they can afford, rather than the cheapest. HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: The presentation highlighted the importance that [the Chinese] attach to the integrated approach. It’s not just an arena for the Olympics but an integral part of the city for the future. In London, it would have been good to have had more orders in place by now for trees and plants. Also, the overall scale of the project is perhaps smaller than initially anticipated — but it can still be a vast horticultural showcase. We hoped the ODA would have been able to engage earlier to build that relationship with the supply chain. But all is not lost. There should still be positive things coming out of it. This event would not have happened without Greening the Games campaign.

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