Wembley Stadium is a living legend, but as the legend aged and sports popularity grew, the need for a modern national stadium to host football, rugby, and entertainment became apparent. From 2000 to 2007, Wembley was closed for demolition and reconstruction, resulting in a modern structure now able to hold 90,000 people. By 2010 it was averaging 2 million visitors a year, surrounded by shops, conference centers, and hotels. This massive development would give rise to green infrastructure, in response to the needs of the permanent residents of Wembley, London. In 2016, a 10-year reconstruction project was proposed that would encompass the entire Wembley Park. The design team was a joint venture between Gross Max, Populous, and Foster + Partners. The £3 billion project included 7,000 new homes, a 7-acre public park, 8,640 new jobs for both construction and permanent retail, and 50 trees along the famous Olympic walkway.
Challenge | Solution:
DeepRoot Silva Cells both support the tree roots and suspend the pavement that receives millions of footsteps from millions of visitors around the world. The first of two installations of Silva Cells occurred in 2017 along Olympic Way. 900 2x Silva Cells were installed in 2017 along Olympic Way to support 36 (18 identical pairs) new trees. With new buildings constructed on both sides of Olympic Way, the original trees and old memorabilia stalls were removed and replaced with the new trees, consisting of 18 (24 eventually) different species on opposite sides of the pedestrian walkway.
Silva Cells Bolster the Trees at Wembley Way
The trees are referred to as the “Avenue of Champions,” and each species is arranged in order of its longitudinal origin. In addition to adding to the diversity and mitigating monoculture, Gross Max, the landscape architect, wanted to create an array of different colors that would burst in the autumn season. The trees from the station to the stadium reflect the temperate zones of the Northern Hemisphere. Starting west (being the station end) to east, they are arranged in order of the longitude of their natural habitat. The latitude of each tree is engraved into the tree grill. Particularly unique to this project are the many different species of northern hemisphere trees chosen for installation in the Silva Cells. The tree species mirror each other along the avenue walkway and are flourishing in the same soil volume under the London weather conditions.
Managing stormwater, along with the health and survival of trees throughout this multi-year-development process, was at the forefront of a successful project for the developer, Quintain. To manage the stormwater, a separate attenuation tank was installed down the middle of Wembley Way.
While the Silva Cells were installed in July 2017, it should be noted that the trees were not planted until February 2018. Silva Cells can be installed many months prior to when the trees need to be installed. Silva Cells’ flexibility was ideal for this project.
Silva Cells Vital to Ensuring Accessibility for All
Wembley Stadium removed its iconic ramps and in 2021 replaced them with stairs. The ramps known as pedways, had been available to supporters for 46 years. The removal of the ramps paved the way for a further 12 trees lining the pathway. These 12 trees will have the support of 600 Silva Cells, creating 35 m3 of soil volume while sharing soil with neighboring trees, creating a continuous positive feedback loop for root growth.
The developer, Quintain, wrote in a press release in July 2020, “the Olympic Steps will improve accessibility for all visitors to the National Stadium. The programme of works will see four large new lifts installed at the National Stadium, each able to carry three wheelchair users at a time. The steps have been designed to meet industry best practice and will be rigorously tested prior to use at major events.”
At Wembley Way, Silva Cells were specified by Gross Max, the landscape architect, and installed by VolkerFitzpatrick. They required a flexible solution that would allow them to easily work around the many utilities and footings at the project. It also provided them with the ability to work in stages and for the stadium to remain open to the public for concerts and events during construction. Furthermore, it allowed the tree planting areas to be completed a couple of months prior to planting, which allowed them to plant at the appropriate time for healthy tree growth and within the project time frame.
DeepRoot is thrilled to have been part of such a historic and iconic footpath with Silva Cells. We look forward to attending an event and strolling along the revitalized Wembley Way with high-performing green infrastructure of diverse trees from around the world in the near future.