I was intrigued by the construction of the courtyard and buildings around the giant plane tree at the Larmenier & Sacred Heart primary school in west London (2 November, page 58).

On all the construction projects in which I have been involved in recent years, planning conditions not only require that there is no construction within the canopy spread of major trees, but also that the root spread is protected from compression. The whole of the school courtyard appears to be imperviously paved over the root area and even the green roofs of the surrounding buildings are drained via gutters and downpipes to gullies.

The article describes the extensive ecological features of the building, but does not say how the future of this tree, which is the centrepiece of the design, is safeguarded. Although London planes are traditionally resistant to urban environments, one of this size must require an enormous volume of rainwater and it is not evident how this is to be provided. It would be a disaster for the focus of the project to sicken a few years after completion.

Richard Vogt