Unilever moved out of their head office three years ago, during this time other than the front façade, the rest of the building was demolished.
Unilever’s aim was to recycle all the material from the old building into the new building.
The new internal areas comprises of 7 floors and a roof garden, a large open reception area on the ground floor which can be viewed from all floors.
There was no brief from the client other than to provide planting that would enhance the building.
The reception area is a huge space with a ceiling 7 floors up, it was a daunting task to introduce plants into this space that wouldn’t dominate (as in one huge specimen) or look to small.
Flora-tec took inspiration from the roof garden which has a number of clipped pyramid bay trees in steel planters, (which had been designed by the architect) to provide tall steel conica topper containers planted with 2.5m Ficus pillars.
The Reception area has also informal seating areas, flora-tec have provided planting to these areas using GRP pillar containers in polished metal finish planted with character dracaena magentas.
The Café on the ground floor has large GRP circular planters (also in polished metal) planted with Kentia palms and guzmanias.
The architect had provided colour within the building by using a lime green on some of the structure. Flora-tec decided to provide tall tapered tower planters on the 7th floor restaurant in a similar colour.
The main offices were going to be open plan with coloured lights and large screens which show the various products that Unilever own. Flora-tec decided not to add any further colours into these areas and that the containers should be off white.
The scheme also includes fresh flower displays to the reception and restaurant and 10 flowering displays in the directors offices, the planters in these areas are coloured glass cubes.
All the standard planting have irrigation systems.
The top dressing to all the containers is slate.
This was completed over a three day period.
The first day Flora-tec installed the large pillar Ficus trees. Flora-tec had to organise clearance from the City of London to give them permission to have the delivery lorry parked outside the main entrance.
The actual planting was done using a scissor lift (see image), special care had to be taken due to the height of the planter, the fragile head of the tree and the fact that the planter had a false fibreglass bottom. The team leader Andrew Marson had recently been on the eFIG large tree planting course.
Even the operations director helped in ensuring that the building was left clean and tidy.
The following day other plants to the reception, café and 7th floor were installed.
The final day the plants were installed to the office areas.
Flora-tec had made compost 55% pulverised bark, 20% sphagnum peat, 20% irish peat and 5% grit.
The slate are seconds from a slate quarry in Wales.
The fibreglass containers are made in the uk to reduce carbon footprints on delivery.
We have had positive feed back from the client, plants delivered on time with no problems ‘seamless’. The client is currently solving other building problems and the staff move is running a month late. This has given the trees time to settle in, although they dropped very few leaves.
Simon Blackley the flora-tec designer and business development manager says that this has been the best scheme he has been involved in and is delighted in the result.