Syon Park has been the country home to the Duke of Northumberland for over 400 years and in April 2011 it became the newest location for the high-class Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, combining legendary service with the finest traditions of an English country house estate. Even though the hotel sits at the edge of the 200 acre estate it was essential that the new building maintained some of the character of the aristocratic country home.
The hotel design was very sympathetic to the local environment with a commitment to the use of locally sourced materials and traditional designs; but just how do you avoid constructing a new building without it looking new? The owners of the hotel turned to Treebox for help with the solution.
Treebox recommended the use of their curtain walling that contains ivy plants to provide an immediate greening solution with the potential for a longer term extended coverage.
To provide the most cost effective solution Treebox installed a new pot-based system that uses uniquely designed planters with moulded hooks that attach to wire mesh frames. Each planter holds long-life substrate separated from a 50ml water reservoir by a water absorbent membrane. An irrigation system with pressure-regulated drippers was used to ensure each plant received the correct amount of water on a daily basis.
Evergreen ivy plants were selected for their all-year round display and ability to grow quickly. They are also native to the UK so have the necessary robustness for winter survival. Two main types of ivy were used (green and variegated) to provide a colour variation and enhance the overall visual appeal of the installation.
The custom-designed frames were built on-site and sized for each specific location around the building. A big challenge to the team during installation was access to the final positions of most screens. Due to the retrofit nature of the project, landscaping around the building was complete and there was a need to avoid damage to existing flower beds and lawns. This was successfully achieved using some innovative access techniques.
The response from both staff and guests at the hotel has been very positive. The installation is already the largest commercial example of the system in the UK, but plans are already in place to extend the coverage over more walls at the hotel. There has even been discussion around the use of a high impact feature wall for the impressive ballroom courtyard. As the ivy starts to establish itself over the building some of the ‘new-build’ feel will evolve into a much more ‘lived-in’ feel. Though unlikely to rival the character of its stately home neighbour, the hotel should provide a much more modern and practical solution for hosting the discerning traveller in London.