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thames quintessence rooftop chic

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roof terrace blog / trends

design & words Amir Schlezingeramir schlezinger

Chic with Essence

Soaking up a truly magnificent 360-degree city panorama, bathed in blissful River Thames sunshine, this rather small roof terrace distils bucketfuls of delectable urban chic through historic essence. With an incredible array of London landmarks, sprawling Mediterranean flora and abundant stylish seating, we rejoined our client for an afternoon session, accompanied by marvellous photographer Marianne Majerus, to snap the project for a rooftop feature in Country Life magazine.

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1. flora 2. clime 3. wood 4. views 5. lights 6. detail 7. clients 8. seating 9. planters 10. landmarks

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1 flora

algarvian resonance

South-facing and framed by the neighbours' Olive hedge, we layered 21 Mediterranean species and cultivars into the roof terrace, creating a cascading foliar composition which is intrinsically low maintenance. Since our clients devote much time to their Algarve home in Southern Portugal, the sun-loving flora represents searing coastal regions with Agapanthus, Arbutus, Chamaerops palm, Nerium and Pinus, alongside Mexican Agave and Dasylirion succulents in bespoke rooftop planters – contrasted by Hebe and Libertia from New Zealand in tall troughs.

2 clime

meditative med

Essential oils wafting peacefully under piny canopies, caressed by tranquil skies and sandy beaches, produce spellbindingly meditative properties. To evoke such a primal, natural environment, shrouded in a hazy smog, contaminated riverbank and crane-filled horizon, entails a rigorous plants selection which immanently withstands this rather unfavourable microclimate, and sustains its sculptural silhouettes in dismal weather. Hovering above one of London's most cosmopolitan river crossings, with excellent drainage and sheltering buildings, the Mediterranean floras which enfold the rooftop perform elegantly with their evergreen energy, flaking bark and arching seed heads.

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3 wood

brazilian woodgrain

Designed with smooth Ipe hardwood, this small roof terrace achieves a greater spatial expanse through its lined, directional surface layout, continued three-dimensionally into raised platforms. Juxtaposed with tactual synthetic grass, the merged textures mitigate monotony above this Thames-side residential development, embodying organic warmth beneath a leafy soft landscape. The elevated boundaries function as podiums which generate focus onto foliage in a multilayered planting scheme, underlined by the decking design's velvety patina.


picturesquely sweeping

Immersed in delightful bird's-eye views, perched atop an intimately exclusive position brimming with emergent architectonic syncopation, the roof terrace imbues its penthouse apartment's understated chic. The refinement of architectural design, colours, minimalist furniture and sleek surfaces likewise underlines a resplendently buoyant river scene, abundant in perpetual reflecting light both day and night. The more environmentally complex this urban setting becomes, through fast-paced, momentous Thames-side constructions, the further the rooftop design's timeless elegance accomplishes its purport.

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5 lights

crepuscule by the dome

The night-time blueness of London Millennium Footbridge, flecked with hoards of city folk and charmed tourists, interlinks the mellow yellow of Blackfriars Bridge and violet hues of Southwark Bridge to form a surreal, urban, rainbow-like pattern. The roof terrace lighting generates an intermediate layer of comforting warmness, delineated through LED lights fitted beneath the floating succulent planters, and continued in rhythmic intervals with spotlights placed among shrubby undergrowth. The brightly lit riverscape and its graduated tonal hues is reiterated further in the glaucous foliage of Hebe ‘Clear Skies’ and Agave americana ‘Mediopicta’, extended in summer by the purpleness of English lavender – embraced by a spectrum of warm white lamps.

6 detail

orange-coloured cladding

Sited midway within St Paul's Heights protected views, Sir John Lyon House, designed by RM Architects, depicts three centuries of London history in its low-rise exclusivity. The building's modern interior and lush communal atria extend vibrant colours into their south-facing elevation through a graduating palette of orange hues, absorbingly accenting St Paul's elevation from Tate Modern's viewing gallery. We echoed these imaginative architectural specks by designing brand-new planter prototypes, vividly accentuated in pure white, orangey and graphite-grey tones, where powder-coated silkiness thoroughly associates with its surrounding glass and stainless steel details.

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7 clients

congenial concierge

Since our clients spend limited interludes up on the roof terrace garden, residing chiefly in the English and Portuguese countrysides, the project's process not only entailed a constrained timeframe, but also a self-sustained rooftop design ethos. Assisted by a marvellously considerate porter in an intricately tight EC4 turning, while inspired by our clients' gracious hospitality, worldly art collection and sheer architectural finesse, we embarked on a design & build task aloft High Timber Street to create a small, yet utterly chic roof terrace.

8 seating

belgian settees

The elegant Manutti furniture distils a refined synthesis of ergonomic sumptuousness, design minimalism and outdoor functionality, handily wrapped in waterproof synthetic leather. Well-matched with our milk-white fitted planters, while contrasted by umber-grey troughs and the woodiness of Ipe deck boards, these fabulously chic ottomans and sofas transform the roof terrace seating into a thoroughly opulent and ambiently luxurious centrepiece of alfresco comfiness.

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9 planters

signature voids

A sequence of 17 custom-made planters in 4 designs and 3 colours punctuates the roof terrace's perimeter, chicly reiterating our clients' interior's finesse and genuine sense of urban outdoor style. Floating elegantly above slender shadow gaps, perfectly equipped with integral brackets, drainage outlets, irrigation microtubes and lighting conduits, these modern containers sustain plant growth plentifully. The orange tints of two aperture troughs and a pair of floating square planters repeat the building's cladding colour, framing the landscape views through their hollowed elevations, seducing light into the rooftop.

10 landmarks

delightfully monumental

This rather brief 650-metre thumbnail of River Thames, between Blackfriars and Southwark Bridges, forms an undisputedly captivating urban milieu – a modern Mecca for art and architecture lovers alike. Resolutely shaped by millennial monuments, encompassing some of London's most contentious projects, this world-famous river footpath embodies an entire architectural timeline in awe-inspiring chronology. Magnetised by London millennium footbridge and its 325-metre blade of light, while culminating in UK's most loved building, Sir Christopher Wren's St Paul's Cathedral, this picturesquely panoramic magnitude of London landmarks comprises Shakespeare's globe, Tate Modern and The Shard – navigated afloat via the humble Bankside Pier.

– coda –

Bankside Chicness

What defines rooftop chic the most? Keeping abreast with outdoor trends may seem an effortless antidote for style stagnation, yet forms a rather ostensibly sparse approach. Purposeful design simplicity and long-term comfort, interlaced with refined integration of interior and landscape, promote pure timelessness, where impactful layouts and elegant detail reciprocate dynamically, as roof terrace gardens mellow into their urban backdrop. In this intimately small roof terrace, our clients' intuitive eye for design and progressive European aesthetics steered the project's synergetic discourse – producing an exquisitely personal space – the hallmark of an enduring roof terrace lifestyle.