NOVA, Victoria, London
NOVA SW1, London’s reformed multi-purpose development is situated in the heart of the Victoria district, running close to the walls of Buckingham Palace and Victoria & Albert Museum, also additionally a stones’ throw away from Victoria Station itself. This regeneration scheme encompasses and benefits from the hustle of its city commuters through shops, cafes and restaurants. Repurposed public space and eateries welcome residents and visitors into the NOVA area, creating a newfound hub of amenities worked into the movements of fast-paced city life for the 115 million visitors that pass this area each year.
The region of NOVA also has allowed 170 residential apartments to enter the competitive London market, being a prime location for young professionals to establish themselves in a high-quality living situation, within close proximity to London’s tube stations and green areas of St James’ Park.
Placemaking and amenity is a monumental topical talking point in the landscape industry at present, ensuring that schemes identify 15 minute-City necessities in their plans. NOVA is a prime example of how placemaking can be implemented successfully in a built-up area. This public space offers an abundance of green infrastructure open space as well as allowing businesses to set up shop and reach a wider audience.
Concern had been raised regarding the area having 60% of its canopy cover coming from 14% of its trees – all London Planes – so successional new planting is vital if the green nature of this area is to be maintained.
Working with the main contractors of Careys PLC, GreenBlue were enthused to be specified on this scheme with the tree planting being amidst the stunning green walls and podium planters within the central hub. To allow the hard paved space to become a green oasis the StrataCell 60 series load-bearing soil support module was used to reduce installation time and transport costs as well as improving the structural capacity of the planting area giving the rooting uncompacted soil opportunities, particularly in view of the Victoria Underground line running beneath the development. With vertical and lateral forces also considered in the engineering make-up of tree pits, StrataCell’s well-designed matrix units lock together well beneath the ground, forming a monolithic framework with excellent modular strength, providing 94% soil by volume made from 100% recycled HDPE.
The trees within the raised planters have access to the soil within the Stratacell structure beneath the planter and paving levels. This simple, innovative technique, linking the planters to a below-ground soil resource, hugely increases the volume available for tree roots to establish in, thereby improving drought tolerance and allowing the trees to be more resilient and healthier. This in turn enables the trees to bring more ecosystem benefits, including shade and urban cooling so vital to making the Nova public realm a successful ‘people friendly’ environment.
With the completion in 2017, the high-quality finishing touches were bestowed on the area with Pre-Cast Tree Grilles surrounding the trees in this project and incorporating the heavy-duty RootRain ArborVent’s providing irrigation and aeration to maintain long term soil health and fertility by facilitating adequate volumes of water and nutrients such as oxygen to reach the tree rooting area directly.