Planting

There are stadia, particularly in the USA, which have virtually no planting as a conscious part of the overall site philosophy. Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan is one. Another is the Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh where the approach has been to allow the structure to be seen for miles around. The siting of the Three Rivers Stadium at the junction of the rivers which flow through Pittsburgh is certainly one of the most striking to be found anywhere, particularly when approached from across the river.

On the other hand, planting can greatly ameliorate the problems of scale and unfriendly-looking finishes sometimes associated with sports stadia and can make almost any stadium look better. The 35 000-capacity Cologne Stadium in Germany (now demolished) provided a particularly good example, being set inside a large sports park and surrounded by foliage so thick that it was possible to be beside the building and virtually not see it. As a more recent example, the stadium for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney is partly surrounded by an 'urban forest' of eucalyptus trees. Such measures can have a softening, and very pleasing, effect on what are often very large concrete buildings. The Hong Kong Stadium (Figure 4.4) is fortunate enough to be located in a lush green setting.

However, planting is expensive both in initial cost and in maintenance, particularly in places (such as sports stadia) where vandalistic behaviour may occur from time to time, and few stadia can afford large maintenance bills just for the care of plants. Possible precautions include:

• Planting mature trees and shrubs and protecting them for as long as possible with frames.

• Establishing a plant nursery on the site (assuming there is enough space) which is inaccessible to the public and where plants may grow unhindered until they are strong enough to risk the attention of the crowds.

• Concentrating the planting in those areas where it will be most effective, as discussed below.

Above all landscaping and planting should not be left as an afterthought at the last stages of a project, as happens all too often. They should be part of the masterplan, planned and adequately budgeted for from the very beginning. The ideal is a landscaping masterplan in which trees which will take several years to grow to maturity are planted immediately, protected during their vulnerable years, and are fully effective when the stadium comes into use. Mature trees can also be purchased from nurseries, transported to the site and planted, but this is expensive.

In summary, it is difficult to have too many trees on a stadium site, but we very frequently see too few. In some cases the planting becomes the focus of our attention: who would think of the Championships at Wimbledon, for example, without a mental image of the green virginia creepers covering the main elevations of the buildings? They are as much a part of Wimbledon as the singles finals, and the development plan which is to take this venue into the twenty-first century very consciously retains and builds on this image.

The following are particularly effective locations for plants.

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