Looking After Landscapes for the Long Term
Celbridge, Co. Kildare
Landscape Construction and Landscape Maintenance
Bennett Construction and Pierse Contracting on behalf of the Office of Public Works (OPW)
Ciaran O’Connor, State Architect
Winner, ALCI – Residential, Commercial & Public Authority Maintenance, 2005 and 2013
Winner, ALCI – Landscaping Contract, 2005
Led by the State Architect, Ciaran O’Connor, Backweston Campus is a pioneering achievement in landscape design and development. The 91-acre site in Celbridge is home to the State Laboratory, the Agricultural Laboratory and the Food Safety Office. These will soon be joined by a new Forensic Laboratory, which is currently under construction.
Central to O’Connor’s vision for the project was an ecological and human-centred landscape that balances sustainable features with a pleasing, but practical place to work. His design incorporated natural, green surroundings that offer a contrast to the clinical lab environment, promoting staff well-being and supporting healthy ecosystems.
We were brought on board in 2005 to undertake the landscape construction and bring this vision to life. Our relationship with the site has endured ever since, and we were retained by the facility management company to maintain, nurture and develop the landscape as it matures and evolves over time.
Looking after hard and soft landscaping elements, we worked closely with the architect and main contractors to ensure that all project elements were delivered on time, and that any changes could be accommodated within the site and budget parameters. An extensive range of native planting was specified for the grounds, and we advised on the most appropriate varieties to suit the constraints of the site, encourage natural habitats and support the project’s biodiversity objectives.
In what was an extremely progressive approach for the time, no soil was removed from the campus. Instead, our team managed soil movement and contouring on site – saving €4m in costs and achieving significant environmental benefits.
Once construction was complete, our maintenance work initially focused on caring for the landscape as it fully established itself. Over time, we have tailored our approach to suit the evolving needs of the client and the site, recommending and implementing improvements to enhance the outdoor environment.
In particular, we have worked with our client to strengthen the site’s biodiversity credentials through targeted measures, like reduced mowing regimes to generate grassland meadows and additional pollinator-friendly planting to provide food sources throughout the year. As a Business Supporter of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, we are well positioned to progress the client’s BeeGreen initiative, and our work has helped to increase on-site habitats that attract and sustain a wider variety of wildlife.
We have carefully managed the grounds for almost 20 years now, using minimal intervention and environmentally sensitive techniques to establish a mature and flourishing landscape. By enhancing the biodiversity of the site, we have helped to realise the architect’s longer-term vision, creating a space where people and nature work in harmony, and one that truly stands the test of time.
The success of Backweston Campus illustrates how a forward-thinking approach to landscape development can bring lasting benefits to the people and wildlife that inhabit the space. The thriving woodlands, wetlands, lawns and meadows are a testament to the architect’s foresight and to our ongoing collaboration with the facility management team. The project has been recognised several times by the ALCI, awarding us for the quality and innovation of both our landscape construction and maintenance work.
“Over time, SAP Landscapes have become a valued partner, helping us to keep our commitments to our clients. Their dedication, innovation and hard work leave nothing to chance, and they have provided great support as we have worked to further enhance the biodiversity value of our grounds. Added to that, their attention to detail and the pride they take in their work comes through in the consistent quality of their service.”