The high quality design in the 2012 Gardens was developed through a combination of rigorous coordination and careful testing and specification of materials. ; The high quality design in the 2012 Gardens was developed through a combination of rigorous coordination and careful testing and specification of materials. ;

London 2012 Landscape engineering the Olympic Park, Stratford, London

Transforming the South Olympic Park into one of the largest urban parks in Europe.

Arup’s landscape architects and engineers led the transformation of a 2.5km² derelict brownfield site into the breath-taking setting – working closely with the client design consultants, planners and contractors at every stage of this important legacy project.

Arup was responsible for detailed design and coordination of the South Olympic Park Landscape and Public Realm – a geographically challenging site with significant ground-level changes and the added complication of large scale utilities.

Arup’s team demonstrated meticulous planning and programme management to successfully coordinate its work on the Park site with a number of other major projects being undertaken simultaneously, on the strictest of timescales.

Arup’s detailed design work covered the complex boundaries between landscape and the Games venues, bridges and utilities. Ensuring access for all visitors was a key objective and the Arup team explored levels and topography to find optimal solutions.

Billed as the ‘greenest Games to date’, meeting sustainability targets was of paramount concern. Arup’s consultants conceived and implemented innovative solutions to see these targets met:

  • The reuse of 90% of demolition material in the landscape works.

  • The use of concrete mixes with the highest possible recycled material content.


All materials used on the project were sampled and tested prior to final detailed design and specification. Read more about Arup’s sustainability innovations.

When the Games closed, Arup was called on again to oversee the sensitive dismantling of temporary venues, structures and concourse areas to create permanent parkland, completing the renovation of one of London’s largest brownfield sites.

The Landscape and Public Realm South Park project won a CEEQUAL ‘Excellent Whole Project Award (95.8%)’ in 2012. In legacy, the Park will become one of the largest contemporary urban parks in Europe and a catalyst for regeneration in East London.

See Arup’s Tom Armour talk about landscaping the Olympic Park.

The ODA listed climate change, energy, waste and materials, water, transport and mobility as key themes of its sustainability strategy – each with its own challenging targets.

Achieving sustainable targets for the landscape and public realm project was an important consideration from the outset. The project pioneered some major sustainability gains with the installation of a soil-washing plant that cleaned 30,000 tonnes of site material for reuse in the works and ensured a cut and fill balance for the project; and the reclamation and cleaning of 8.5km of riverside to transform the waterways that form the main features throughout the park.

Arup's sustainability specialists worked with the landscaping team to evaluate opportunities to embed sustainability measures into the design, specification and construction process for the Park. One resulting initiative was the reuse of 90% of demolition material in the landscape and public realm works. This included specifying reclaimed aggregates to face the reinforced retaining walls and bridge abutments which reused 2,700 tonnes of waste material. This recycling avoided the extraction of 51,000 tonnes of virgin material.

Arup’s teams were also involved in a complex process to select an optimal paving solution that was durable, cost-effective and would meet sustainability targets. This involved taking square metre slices of different pavement options – the top surface, supporting layers and drainage solutions – and evaluating these against criteria including embodied impact, potential recycled content and cost.

Non-PVC pipes for the surface water drainage were selected, which not only reduced the impact of the potentially unhealthy materials but also cut embodied CO2 by 16.5kg per pipe.

Arup used WRAP’s Net Waste Toolkit to maximise recycled content in its designs with no extra cost or loss of performance. Over 900 tonnes of waste pulverised fuel ash (PFA) was used to significantly reduce embodied CO2 in the concrete design.

FSC sustainable timber was used for all items such as benches, posts and edging.