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Cumbrian history blends into the landscape

GREEN TERRAMESH from geosynthetic manufacturer and supplier Maccaferri has been used to help the new Rheged visitor centre in the Lake District blend in with the local landscape.

The system was used to stabilise steep grassy banks around the natural stone and rock entrance to the £15M centre near Penrith, which is claimed to be the UK's largest grass-covered building.

Consultant AL Daines and Partners needed a geogrid that could support vegetation and accommodate a variation in slope of between 45degrees and 55degrees.

Green Terramesh is rigid, giving a smooth, natural looking slope with no bulges or 'bolsters' to damage the illusion of a naturally formed hill. Units are formed from a single sheet of hexagonal, double twist woven steel mesh.

When installed, it has three parts: a horizontal soil reinforcement section, a facing section and a horizontal return top section. Triangular support brackets provide added rigidity, allow easy installation and can be customised to match the precise angle of the slope.

The facing section can be supplied with an additional non-woven geotextile or Biomac biodegradeable coir (coconut fibre) blanket woven into the mesh during manufacture to assist the establishment of vegetation.

For the Rheged project, Maccaferri's bio-engineers worked closely with Cheltenham Landscape Design to agree a soil specification and to finalise the grass seed mix for hydroseeding.

The centre, named after the ancient Celtic kingdom, opened in the summer. It is owned by Westmorland Motorway Services, which funded construction together with English Partnerships, the European Regional Development Fund, the North West Regional Development Agency and Cumbria County Council.

Built on five levels, Rheged's centrepiece is a large format film of 2000 years of Cumbrian history shown on a cinema screen bigger than six double decker buses. It also boasts shops, restaurants and panoramic views.

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