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design & words Amir Schlezingeramir schlezinger

Pimlico, Ne Plus Ultra

In perfect alignment with a shimmering Grosvenor Canal, centred transversely from Chelsea Embankment between Bramah House and Hepworth Court, the scintillating kinetic sculpture atop Caro Point pinnacles Grosvenor Waterside with mid-rise elegance – gloriously surveying a reimagined Pimlico cityscape. When our client relocated locally to an 11th floor private penthouse apartment with four small roof terraces, we relished the opportunity to collaborate once more on a rooftop landscaping project, immersed in spectacular, panoramic London views. Already exquisite internally, yet externally rather half-baked landscape-wise shall we say, we set out to remove everything on the rooftops and start de novo. With picturesque camera work by distinguished photographer Marianne Majerus, we take you through the fine nuances of this Pimlico roof terrace project, perched above the ne plus ultra building of a pristine SW1 canal development.

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1. clime 2. floras 3. stone 4. lights 5. views 6. vases 7. client 8. layout 9. iconic 10. pimlico

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1 clime

unrelenting breeze

Facing west towards Chelsea Barracks, indulging in heavenly views one hundred feet above scenic Ranelagh Gardens, the main roof terrace absorbs more that its fair share of gusty winds traversing three open elevations laterally and quite vigorously. Three further roof terraces, situated partly below overhangs, form a south-facing sheltered elevation abreast mighty Battersea Power Station, where a majestically restored London icon prevails steadfastly at eye level. This remarkable range of microclimates impelled a broad planting canvas, furthered by tall evergreen hedging across the dining area.

2 floras

foliar progression

Enthused by the prospect of rekindling our previous collaboration with the client, and hypnotically inspired by the breadth of Pimlico panoramas, our planting vision was however somewhat inhibited by the distinct absence of outdoor water taps. With oodles of plumbing ingenuity and irrigation intrepidity, we devised a sensible framework to cultivate plants, where altitudinous horticulture can thrive amid drying winds, dehydrating roof eaves and a preoccupied owner...

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Exposed roof terrace areas feature Tasmanian eucalyptus, Corkscrew willow, Tibetan Cherry and Mediterranean Buckthorn trees, followed by a tall Windmill palm and a dainty Japanese maple in the shaded rooftop gardens. Silver spears, Hook grasses, Hebe, Brass buttons and Tukauki from New Zealand, together with Mexican lilies, Barrenwort and English lavenders provide ground-cover lushness in dark-leaved architectural compositions which keenly contrast Caro Point's light-toned limestone cladding, and sustain a low-maintenance mindset.

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3 stone

trapezium outlines

The high-spec turnkey apartment presents some super-sleek touches, enveloped by immaculate limestone cladding. We followed suit with smooth buff sandstone pavers, contrasted by blue-grey flamed granite flagstones, in a surface linkage which forms crisp diagonal lines, and mitigates the roof terraces' scalene trapezium outlines. The light-hued sandstone is repeated across the raised bed coping, while the blue-coloured textured granite is reiterated in the tinting of bespoke roof terrace planters, where this minimalist composition floats cohesively above adjustable pedestals – instilling definition and structure.

4 lights

enigmatic silhouettes

Superbly lit, the apartment features an advanced LED light system, harmonised by unique pendant lamps to form an intimate ambience. With Wembley Stadium Arch glistening in the backdrop, alongside an up-close illuminated vista of Battersea's quartet of bright chimneys, we integrated strip lights beneath the floating raised bed and free-standing containers. The roof terrace lighting accentuates sculptural tree trunks with cosy uplighters, where enigmatic silhouettes ascend Caro Point's vast stone facade in dreamlike fashion.

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5 views

breathtaking backdrop

Having worked previously in Grosvenor Waterside, we've watched Caro Point emerge, rise and crown the ennead of buildings which comprise this sumptuous canal development. By the time our client settled into his brand-new penthouse apartment, the surrounding landscape had greened considerably, where many rooftop terraces below the zenith's vantage point have been planted up. Abundant in magnificent London plane tree canopies, lucent watercourses, city landmarks and modern sculpture, with one prodigious power station as its prime focus, this re-energised urban skyline forms a breathtaking, diverse backdrop for a contemporary Pimlico roof terrace.

6 vases

curvy, ripply, wavy

Sixteen bespoke troughs and four unique River pots accentuate this quartet of roof terrace gardens, manufactured in powder-coated high-grade aluminium and lightweight fibreglass. In the main roof terrace, we've utilised an innovative method, where the deep hedge planters separating our client's and his next-door neighbours' rooftops were powder coated in individual tones either side to match personalised colour schemes. Throughout the smaller roof terraces, our signature recessed troughs feature LED cavity lighting to illuminate the textures of granite surfaces ambiently. The invigorating blue tones selected by our client complete a contrastive colour palette, complementing the black and coppery shades of deeply grooved round pots.

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7 client

detail-oriented mind

The erstwhile transformation of our client's Hepworth Court roof terrace had clearly made a lasting impression, and this time around, designing four small spaces rather than one large rooftop project, we continued our robust dialogue in thoroughgoing on-site consultations. Site familiarity and abundant creative freedom, along with a denizen co-ally, have set the scene for an understated rooftop design through a focused, synergetic design process, where our former shared vision, maturing just an earshot away, provides a lush backdrop across this Pimlico skyline, viewed panoramically from the new roof terraces.

8 layout

angular grid

While the south-facing apartments in Caro Point are parallel with River Thames, their roof terraces feature a 60-degree angle which tapers the outdoor spaces into trapezoidal wing shapes. Unique only to this penthouse apartment, a sequence of four rooftops, gradually increasing in capacity, culminates in a 30-square-metre roof terrace outside the kitchen, forming an unusual trapezium outline. To balance this triangularity, we superimposed an angular grid of sandstone and granite surfaces, bisected into asymmetrical layouts. From the rooftop which frames the entrance hall to the balcony outside the living room and the larger terraces enveloping the kitchen, each rooftop garden features an architectural tree as an enticing focal point.

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9 iconic

prodigious power station

Battersea Power Station's brown Blockley bricks and the London yellow stocks which prevail throughout neighbouring boroughs form a triadic vernacularity with the red-brick buildings which define Pimlico and Chelsea's architectural fabric. While Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's iconic red telephone box is all but a rare sight in a fully digitised world, his ivory-painted ‘Woodbines’ chimneys not only have received a rigorous 3-year restoration, but will also continue to tower resolutely above a 9-billion-pound regeneration project in UK's largest property deal.

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This epochal icon of 20th-century rock music has become scenically embedded in London's riverscape, and its transformative outgrowth is further manifested in Pimlico's newly contemporised urban quarters. Grosvenor Waterside, with its sleek contours, yet analogous brickwork, resolves this half-century generational juxtaposition of architectures by sensibly and effortlessly dissolving its framework into the majestic backdrop of a decommissioned, though permanent power station.

10 pimlico

sculpted engineering

Our client is a globetrotting man, and Pimlico has been his home for quite some time, where the close proximity to Sloane Square, Chelsea Flower Show, King's Road and Victoria enables a buoyant social life in between business journeys. A Belgravia overspill area, abounding in Regency architecture masterminded by Thomas Cubitt, and juxtaposed with cutting-edge contemporary new developments, Pimlico's stuccoed regality was once Sir Winston Churchill's most favourite place to live, distinguished at its most southwestern position by Western Pumping Station. At the foot of the 80-metre-high Italianate tower, Grosvenor waterside presents its outermost building, honouring the pioneering master builder Cubitt, crescendoed into its tallest, Caro Point, named after the English sculptor, along with Hepworth Court, Moore house and Hirst Court which celebrate a century of modern British art.

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– coda –

Terrace Trademarks

Capped by a mesmerising 3-metre swanlike sculpture, Caro Point's facade cascades gleamingly into Grosvenor Canal lock. The aeriality, abstractness and encompassment of EPR Architects' kinetic artwork beautifully complete a groundbreaking multidisciplinary public art programme as a focal highlight admired from Chelsea Embankment. Underscoring the vista, gazed by Battersea's larger-than-life edifice, the design of this Pimlico roof terrace project attentively positions its symmetrical succession of sculptural trees to frame the building with proportional, verdant scale. Internally, the four roof terraces manifest an intimate refinement of textures and forms, where luxuriousness of interior design is reciprocated rather indulgently, and foliar diversity transforms mere outdoor spaces into luscious rooftop gardens – the trademarks of London's sky-high, contemporary terrace lifestyle.