Need: RTS involves the creation of 17km of flood alleviation channel which requires the excavation of huge amounts of soil and bedrock. The area is covered by a number of active and historic landfill sites making the excavations complex and the material movement tricky and extremely costly to the point of risking the entire scheme. B&V and its partners has developed a landscape plan which will use this material to create a series of landscape features. These features or beacons will make use of material reducing the schemes cost but will also provide valuable landscape features for the neighbouring residence and help tie the scheme into its surroundings.
Challenge: The RTS area has a number of towns with a large population as well as significant landowners. To ensure these landscape features are designed appropriately the team wanted to understand what the beacons would look like, but also what the view would be like from the top. Other questions included how high do the beacons need to be in order to see over nearby trees, to see each other, and the see central London.
Solution: B&V used a 360 degree camera and telescopic pole usually used by estate agents to capture a series of images at the proposed beacon location. Images were captured at different heights as well as ground level across the sites. These images were then used as the basis for landscape architects to create artist impressions of the future scheme from the exact location and height of the future landscape features. The images also gave the team a sense of what the view would be like from the beacons and when teamed up with a virtual reality headset allowed the team and stakeholders to ‘stand’ on the beacon many years before it is actually constructed.
- Handing someone a virtual reality headset and asking them to walk the site, or see the view from the beacons really impresses. It gives a sense of the scheme that does not come across from standard pictures.
- With a project of the scale of RTS there are tens or hundreds of stakeholders and often the schemes success relies on their approval. Allowing stakeholders to stand in or on your scheme when it is still in design allows them to understand and contribute developing greater understand and buy in.
- Being able to virtually stand on the beacons meant several were moved to improve the view from the top.
- Consumer technology was used to deliver this making it cheap and easy to deliver without limiting the output.
- The use of a telescopic pole rather than drone meant no CAA permission was needed in an area that is considered Heathrow airspace. It also means only limited training and liability is required when compared to commercial drone work.