Protecting the ‘Enchanted Forest’

12 12 2013

Protecting the 'Enchanted Forest'

One of the things that first inspired our architects MUMA when they initially visited the Whitworth back in 2009 was the beauty of the mature ash and London plane trees adjacent to the building in Whitworth Park, and since part of the design brief was to deliver a green and sustainable project, protection of as many of these trees as possible was high on the list of deliverables.

Little attention had been given to the trees over the years and as a consequence their growth was quite unrestrained – this abandonment gave the appearance of an ‘Enchanted Forest’, one that delighted the architects and showed us that with careful consideration could become an important feature of the overall design and new connections with the park.

MUMA’s design includes a wing housing the Learning Studio with the Cafe above it extending out into the park and very close to the trees – it was essential therefore for the trees to be surveyed and for both the architects and structural engineers, Ramboll to find design solutions that protect the trees and retain the wonderful old avenue. The team worked closely with an arboriculturist from Manchester City Council, who confirmed that the London planes were robust and could tolerate root pruning and that the crown should also be reduced – the photograph shows individual branches earmarked for lopping – while the ash trees were more sensitive and required Ramboll to design piling for the building foundations in specific locations that would miss their roots.

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 11.50.36

pruning trees adjacent to new build

During the development phase of the project, judicial tree surgery was undertaken to improve the health and balance of the trees before construction work started, a construction exclusion zone and tree protection plan was put in place for the construction company to follow and recommendations made for the continuing long-term maintenance of the trees. Happily only one single tree was found to be in poor health and was removed, and as part of the project new planting will add to the diversity of our parkland setting.



2 responses

12 12 2013

Reblogged this on Herbology Manchester and commented:
Interesting post about the importance of Witworth Park’s trees to the development plan of the Whitworth Art Gallery.

12 12 2013
David Gelsthorpe

Reblogged this on Palaeo Manchester and commented:
It’s fantastic that sustainability is at the heart of this project!

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