Churchman Landscape Architects (CLA) was founded 25 years ago and has enjoyed sustained growth, becoming one of the UKs leading landscape design practices. The company combines an intuitive environmental responsibility with a strong desire to realise designs that achieve a unique response to site and brief. It has built a reputation for considered and appropriate responses to a range of sensitive urban and rural environments.
Two recent projects illustrate the CLA approach. The first saw it charged with delivering a "liveable, engaging, playful and beautiful residential landscape with ecological value" at South Gardens, the first phase of Lend Lease’s Elephant Park masterplan to regenerate the 1960s Heygate Estate in London. The firm embraced a robust planting design that prized native and wildlife-friendly species and aimed to maximise biodiversity.
The scheme consists of three-storey townhouses, eight-storey mansion blocks and a 16-storey tower. CLA’s aim was to provide a residential landscape engaging with the buildings at multiple levels — from ground up through shrub and tree canopies, in vertical surfaces as green walls and at roof level.
The courtyards imitate the complexity of a woodland edge with multiple layers of vegetation from the ground herb layers, shrubs and climbers and into the tree canopy with fruiting and mid- and upper-canopy trees. The planting includes nearly 48 varieties of trees and large shrubs, 27 varieties of climber and 11 hedge species.
Two accessible roof gardens provide 40 raised bed allotments, each with integral toolboxes for residents. The green roofs boast more than 50 plant species that replicate lowland heath and acid grassland ecotypes.
On the other side of the Thames, CLA was commissioned to provide the 30-storey Canaletto residential scheme with an imaginative response to its location on the busy A501, adjacent to a drive-in McDonald’s and a petrol station. CLA’s design created a raised granite plinth at the base of the tower, enclosed with flowing granite walls, trees and topiary hedges.
The residents’ entrance court is framed by a 24m-long living wall with a waterfall embedded into the face — a feature that serves to screen the building’s plant enclosure while absorbing sound and pollutants and masking traffic noise with the gentle sound of water. Three large multi-stemmed Zelkova serrata trees planted as a group screen less attractive features and form an extension to the building canopy.
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