London 2012 site shows signs of progress

The Olympic Park may still look like a building site, but behind the hundreds of cranes, diggers and lorries there are signs of the green space that will emerge.

The shell of the main stadium has already been fitted with the panels that will form a living wall, and the area in which designer Sarah Price will create her 2012 garden is demarcated next to the Aquatics Centre.

This phase of the Olympic Park creation - dubbed the Big Build by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) - is the precursor to the landscaping and planting of the LDA Design/Hargreaves team plan.

While BAM Nuttall was appointed last year as the main contractor for the North Park landscape works, a number of firms have now been invited to tender for landscaping sub-contracts in that section of the park.

The North Park has been divided into an east section and a west section, for which tenders are being scored at the moment.

The firms involved are: White Horse Contractors, Willerby Landscapes, English Landscapes, Hasmead, UPM Tilhill, Whiting Landscape and Frosts Landscape Construction.

In addition, the ODA is expected to appoint a contractor to deliver the southern section of the London 2012 Olympic Park in the coming weeks, following the closure of the contract deadline on 13 July.

ODA parklands and public realm project sponsor John Hopkins told HW: "We are now getting high-quality contractors and suppliers in place to start creating the park in the coming months."

Meanwhile, the Zaha Hadid-designed Aquatics Centre, the Media Centre and the Athletes' Village are taking form on the east London site.

However, the economic downturn has meant a lack of investors for the Athletes' Village and Media Centre, meaning the ODA has had to fund its construction out of contingency cash.

The Athletes' Village will consist of 11 blocks, built in quadrants with green spaces at their centre. Landscape design firm Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten has developed the masterplan with urban designer Patel Taylor, supported by Fletcher Priest. A central park will sit in the middle of the village.

Trial planting has taken place on site of the wetland species to be used, and grower Salix has been tasked with growing 500,000 plants in preparation for planting next spring.

The Norfolk and Wales-based grower was appointed earlier this summer.

One of the major tasks on site at the moment is creating new levels for the river banks. Close to the aquatics stadium, temporary river walls are being put in that will help to form a planted waterside section that can cope with being flooded.

Soil remediation and levelling is taking place ahead of the start of Hillier Nurseries' tree-planting programme, set to begin in November.

An ODA official told HW that the other trees and shrubs will be procured by the landscape firms chosen for the individual contracts.

"Starting on site will be a great moment for everyone involved in the project but it's also important to recognise the groundbreaking work that has gone into preparing the land, much of it contaminated through decades of industrial use, which has set new standards in cleaning up brownfield land in a sustainable way," added Hopkins.

"It is an incredibly complex project with a range of challenges but we're on track and excited about getting on site so people can see the park taking shape for themselves."


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