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NATURAL TURF


THE GREENWICH PARK TRANSFORMATION


Park, few will realise the scale of the project that transformed a royal park, which dates back to Roman times, into a modern, world-class sports venue. The 12,000sq m London 2012 cross-


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country course and temporary arena has been set against a backdrop of sweeping views, which will allow spectators to look out across the River Thames to London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and beyond.


SYMPATHETIC CONVERSION Situated on top of a hill, Greenwich Park serves as a sanctuary to foxes, birds and a small herd of fallow and red deer. It is part of the Greenwich World Heritage Site, host to the Meridian Line and annu- ally attracts one million visitors. The park conversion involved an exten-


sive, ecologically-sensitive course to be brought up to International Equestrian Federation (FEI) specification on a 6.2km route that wound through the public park, which contains Roman antiquity and rare acid grassland.


hen 55,000 equestrian fans take their places for the Olympic Eventing competi- tion on 28 July in Greenwich


Contracted by the London Olympic


Games Organising Committee (LOCOG), the job started in 2009 for the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), when we won the commission to manage the proj- ect and deliver the venue. The STRI has a good track record. The


institute operates in 51 countries and has advised on more than 10,000 sports facilities – including the FIFA World Cup football venues in South Africa. The project started by creating de-


tailed plans to develop the course while maintaining the unique elements of the park. An extensive consultation process was undertaken with local residents and this informed many of the plans for re- medial works after the Games.


CAREFUL PLANNING During the project, I managed a team of six PHD-qualified staff who closely monitored the course in the lead up to the test events and towards the Games – testing the turf for strength and mois- ture content to ensure an optimum surface for riders. The show jump-


ing arena is


STRI project manager Lee Penrose discusses the


challenges experienced while converting the 140-acre site at London’s Greenwich Park into an equestrian and modern pentathlon venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games


currently being completed and we’ve worked closely with the contractors to mitigate any impact on the course or surrounding park. Our work commenced on the site in


September 2010 with the excavation of a Roman temple that had already been visited by Channel 4’s Time Team and a number of universities. The work was undertaken in partnership with the Mu- seum of London Archaeology with care taken to protect the historic site. As part of the legacy for the park, the Roman temple has been covered over for its long-term preservation. The park also contains around 80 sweet


chestnut trees – most of which are more than 300 years old. So we made sure that none of the root zones were damaged


Engineering design consultants WS Atkins designed the 100x80m ‘field of play’ platform


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Issue 3 2012 © cybertrek 2012


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