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Arlington's Business Park

Location: Theale

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Description

The site was a wet low lying field which had been used by a local farmer to grow barley. The only landscape was a bedraggled hedge running down the centre of the site beside a shallow ditch. The site is rectangular with the M4, the main A4 and the main railway line to Cornwall forming three sides of the site and an industrial estate the last. This meant that the site had the potential to be noisy and exposed. The problems of the site were further compounded by it being low lying and subject to flooding. This meant that space had to be set aside for storm water balancing and flood compensation.

Three international firms of Architects were given an opportunity to prepare designs for the area but were unable to create a commercially viable proposition. Technical Landscapes were then asked to look afresh at this challenging site. Our team then set to work with a simple premise. Build the offices around central block of landscape with lakes and trees so that every building has at least one elevation with an attractive view for board rooms, directors offices and restaurants etc.

The car parking was then used as a buffer between the buildings and the roads and railways. By setting out the parking from the outside it was possible to compress all the commercial activities on the site into a very limited area whilst at the same time leaving a large block of open land at the centre which had the effect to making the site feel open. This allowed the full permitted development to be compressed onto the site whilst still allowing a feeling of quality. Bringing the main site access road into the centre of the site so that it looked the full length of the site Makes the site particularly striking.

Probably one of the most important commercial contribution which was made to the project was the removal of over 50,000 cubic meters of extractable sand and gravel from the centre of the site which was then used to raise the area around the buildings above the 100 year flood plain so saving an enormous quantity of money.

As so much of the site was put down to buildings and car parks there was no shortage of topsoil and after the major earth formations works had been completed the unused plots were topsoiled and grassed to preserve the overall appearance of the site.

The paths were set out so as to allow both the occupants of the site as well as local residents the opportunity to wander around the site and to enjoy the open air. Great care was taken to ensure that the views change every few meters and maximum use is made of interlocking vistas to create a unique feeling of unlimited interest.

The planting was initially limited to the central infrastructure and the car parks of the first phase of buildings. However as the site developed so additional landscape was added.

The site won the Financial Times award for Business Park of the Year and is probably the best known business park in the country as its full magnificence can be appreciated from the M4 particularly at night when the buildings and the fountain are illuminated.

Next case study: The Heights Business Park 

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