Building Blocks
Stratford Gardens is one of the many prominent green spaces created within the Athletes’ Village development for the London 2012 Olympic Games. These areas were designed to provide pleasant green spaces for use by athletes during the Olympic Games and also afterwards when the Village’s conversion to general housing is complete.
The garden’s design creates a semi-naturalistic setting which acts as a transition between the wilderness of the Wetlands area and the more formal landscaping of the Hill.
idverde UK was appointed to carry out a mixture of hard and soft landscaping works to create Stratford Gardens and the Stratford Green space in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.
 Major features of Stratford Gardens included:
• The planting of over 300 semi-mature trees, both ornamental and native.
• 3 interlinked semi-circular ponds with gravel bases, forming the wetlands feature.
• Bespoke wildflower turf and plug planting.
• Resin, Yorkstone and gravel surfacing for pathways and pavements which transect the site and link to other pedestrian areas of the Village.
• Formal tree planting (in rolled gravel and resin surfacing) to form the ‘Sophoro Robinia Avenue’ which creates an open concourse to the N07 building, where many of the athletes lived during the Games.
• Installation of street furniture including bollards, benches, lighting columns and low level lighting bollards.
One of the site’s key features is its tree-lined vista which runs through the entire Village and opens out onto the cityscape. Lined with formal trees, this mixture of hard and soft landscape focusses directly upon The Shard, the tallest building in Europe.
Quality of workmanship across Stratford Gardens was paramount with high levels of standards expected from all contractors. Throughout the build process extensive Inspection and Testing Plans (ITPs) and Quality Plans were created for each feature to ensure quality at every stage.
The brief was highly specific.  For example, the tolerance of Yorkstone paving was required to be within 1mm, comparatively tighter than that of standard street paving which is generally 2-3mm. Within the hardscape, a number of high quality bespoke features required long lead times. These included specially imported large granite blocks sourced from China (with a 12 week lead time) and bespoke designed street furniture from Switzerland.
Sustainable solutions formed a key part of Stratford Gardens’ theme and although this formed the focus of many soft elements, parts of the hardscape were also installed for environmental purposes. CEDEC porous gravel was used in tree pits, which can retain moisture and allow the excess to flow through to feed the trees.
The specification formed a very complex contract due to the detailed work required to build retaining walls around inter connecting pipework, irrigation, electrical works, and interfaces with three other live (construction) buildings.
Access to the site was heavily restricted due to strict security measures in place throughout the Village in the run up to the Games. Upon entrance and exit to the site, all members of staff were required to pass through two check points where airport security measures were utilised to ensure the site was secure.
Every delivery of materials was also subject to these checks.
Each vehicle was assigned a site pass and every delivery had to be booked into an off-site clearance area before being given a strict deadline for arrival on site.
This required extensive planning and non-stop communication between our team, our suppliers and subcontractors to ensure that each delivery was aware of these requirements and arrived to site with minimal delay. The restrictions on ordering materials in advance also presented a challenge. Apart from perishable materials, every order was subject to at least 24hours notice before delivery. To overcome this potential time constraint, effective communications between the Contract Manager and operatives was essential. Daily meetings, regular checking, and extensive planning ensured that sufficient levels of material were ready on site when required.
The constraints posed by the presence of multiple contractors on-site was also was also managed through regular communication. Weekly logistics meetings between every contractor on site addressed issues and concerns and ensured that all simultaneous works continued smoothly.
Although the presence of many contractors within a small area presented a challenge, the greatest unexpected problem was caused by previous contractors. Delays caused by heavy civils contractors who had missed out several features meant that despite an already tight schedule, we were required to adapt to a new programme and complete these works in addition to our own. This meant taking on extra workers, working longer hours and constantly adapting to programme changes to accommodate this extra work. As landscapers, these works were outside of our remit, but through collaboration with specialist subcontractors and employing a flexible workforce, we ensured that works were completed to the specification and of a quality worthy of the Olympic Games.