This Racing Stud Headquarters in Newmarket is now the prestigious headquarters building for a global race horse breeder. ELD’s involvement began with a and Visual Impact Assessment as part of the planning process. ELD provided the detailed high specification hard and soft landscape elements, to seamlessly integrate the new building within a sensitive landscape, located between two TPO woodlands. The aim was to create a high specification setting for the HQ building that accommodates employees in their workplace and provides hospitality for VIP guests from the international racing world.

The success of the scheme was reflected in the 2010, RIBA ‘Spirit of Ingenuity’ Award, where the external landscape was specifically noted. These spaces are structured around the four quadrants to include an Entrance Quad; Café Garden; Directors Courtyard and Hospitality Garden.

The planting was to provide all season interest and have a ‘wow’ factor, especially when viewed from the air. Hard landscape was to provide a robust and high quality finish to complement the contemporary character and internal finish of the building. Sustainable solutions for heat generation, water recycling and SUDS were adopted within the building structure and landscape areas, to ensure building function and landscape maintenance had minimal impact on natural resources.

ELD completed the following works: LVIA; survey of trees to BS 5837; coloured concept masterplan options; quadrant design options; detailed hard (paving) and soft (planting) landscape design; management plans; water feature designs, furniture, lighting design and specification; SUDS drainage; planting specifications, cost estimates; liaison with design team; CDM reviews; presentations to the Client; plant nursery visit; problem solving on site during the contract and contract reviews with snagging of defects.

Challenges overcome have been numerous.  The project manager and client team changed mid project, resulting in different aspirations and priorities.  The budget was tight and to meet expectations, smaller plant stock was specified; recycled glass was abandoned for less expensive natural stone; water features were rationalised in line with construction constraints and budgets; surface paving design rationalised to accommodate a cherry picker whilst Client changes to the specification resulted in materials running short, adding unforeseen delays.

Tight construction programming and working in saturated, sub-zero conditions challenged the speed and associated quality of workmanship and choice of materials for external areas. Sub-standard path construction and a non-specified resin bound product led to failure of paths, to be later replaced with block paving. The entire planting scheme had to be completed within 3 weeks irrespective of saturated ground conditions, making ground preparation difficult, despite positive drainage. The late introduction of an automatic irrigation scheme caused soil damage and flooding after completion of planting, resulting in anaerobic soils, which had to be decompacted with pressurised air treatment. The later declaration of insolvency by the main contractor was evidently the cause of so many problems, creating a number of other challenges for ELD to resolve relating to completion of the landscape works.

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