know your landmarks
Grippingly mutating, London's skyline dispenses new architectural benchmarks with unmitigated extensiveness. From the peculiarly yet aptly named Walkie-talkie, Gherkin, Cheese grater, Scalpel, Razor and the Shard, no self-respecting architect had precluded contemptuous vernacular stylisation. Audacious architecture no doubt pervades our increasingly disconnected world, when a fearsome race to reinvent, sell and lease both commercial and residential premises clouds the skyline – ultimately diluting classic sightlines in a cacophony of self-indulgent, superabundant superstructures as wannabe landmarks. And so, by the time I conclude this paragraph, something tells me I must pressingly brush up on a bunch of new edificial pseudonyms, as 500 London towers are to be topped out in the next decade or so...
Leading the viewer's eye towards prominent landmarks is an age-old landscape design technique, complementarily focalising neighbouring architectures. Whether understatedly insinuated or quite emphatically distinguished, this architectonic choreography celebrates afresh each and every new urban milestone in London's horizon line. From noble gorgeousness to subpar shapelessness, we strive to embrace, conceal or accentuate intrinsic lines of sight, vantage points and atmospheric perspectives – imparting essential visual focus and a sense of place.
a museful ecology
The sheer broadness of rooftop planting design seductively narrates evocations of local and spatial nuances – gracefully framing landmark vistas, while concealing unsightly views, sheltering from blustery wind and interlinking with distant greeneries in their landscape backdrops. This juxtapositional adaptivity and its manipulatory artistry heighten not only personal refuge, but also ecological benefits. Partnered with bespoke roof terrace planters and accompanied by outdoor lighting, the plants we utilise to accentuate both our roof terrace designs and contiguous landmarks imbue vital intimacy and sculptural essentiality. Whether Zen-inspired, Mediterranean, classically structural or natively sprawling, the delicately silvery, strongly deep-coloured and verdantly glaucous foliage we utilise to soften hard-edged and exposed rooftop canvases enwraps urban contrariness in soothing colour spectrums.
sublimate de novo
Embarking anew in each roof garden project, we intently explore a site's genius loci, when effortless designs materialise unfailingly while coupling inherent sightlines with inspiring landmark views. Very often, clients choose to reside near standout historic sites or indeed brand-new ones, inseparably intermixing appreciation of a unique ambience, ease of access to work and outstanding accommodation. Whatever the reason for preferring this place, its innate momenta always headline the design impetus and ethos, where dynamising a dormant rooftop, who'd only just emerged, reinstates pertinency and an undeniable tie to its landmarks – the very inspirers of modern roof terrace design.
exclusiveness vs. optimality
Megalopolitan panoramic penthouses the world over are selling off-plan faster than one can shake a stick at, anticipatively readied with glassy elevations to absorb and devour up-to-the-minute architectural transmutations. Throughout London, this entrepreneurial phenomenon and its lofty, vitreous reality elevate both vital residential capacities, essentially funding affordable homes, and financial face values, in an unmistakably familiar landscape where historic landmarks abound the skyline. Emphasising the paramount connection between elevational ephemerality and constancy of iconic ancient sites, their sights and sounds, mitigates an eclectic and often whimsical array of buildings amid bulging buildouts. From landscape to cityscape, this inevitable metamorphosis entails newfangled design principles which embody urban idealism and a commitment to architectural perfectionism.
Picturesquely speaking, the whimsicality, abstractedness and sheer photogenicity of London's majestic landmarks interlace in a modern-day montage of ancientness and newness. St Paul's Cathedral, London Eye, Millennium Bridge, the Gherkin, Canary Wharf, St Pancras, Chelsea Bridge, Big Ben, Battersea Power Station, Westminster Abbey, Nelson's Column, The Shard, Tower Bridge, BT Tower, Thames Barrier, Barbican towers, The O2, London and Wembley Stadiums, City Hall, Southbank Centre, Tate Museum and One Canada Square all emblematise a long-standing endeavour to regenerate, alongside a musing flirtation with transmutable urban dynamics. While poetic architectural license isn't a cast-iron certainty in London's strict building regulations, still, the fast-declining ratio of authenticity rivalling novelty maintains only vestigial fragments firmly veiled behind ’a tortured heap of towers’.
Helicopter crashes, melting sports cars, architects' incessant feuds, overridden planning permissions by a Deputy Prime Minister, and a very long list indeed of the world's voted ugliest buildings are only some of the predicaments London's new skyscrapers have purveyed us with lately. This reality paints a sombre picture – that of a social and visual discordance, political mismanagement and architectural awkwardness; in other words: a disoriented capital city where mere eclecticism has gone astray – transgressing rather irreversibly.
Indisputably, allocating sites and approving submissions, let alone architecting foresightedly, sensitively and ingeniously, outline civic tasks of the tallest order, and while momentous decisions are made round the clock in a climacteric effort to catch up with rival cities, provide much-needed housing and capitalise on buoyant offshore investment, the new landmarks which redefine our skyline puff up like stale popcorn in a lousy B-movie. Trouble is, unlike that awful flick, one simply cannot unsee the imagery...
Paying homage to surrounding remarkable landmarks forms not only a pleasurable aspect of roof garden design, but also an architectural yardstick in a vital and inspiring landscape methodology. From the photographically jaw-dropping to the quaintly scenic, every rooftop perspective represents a zeitgeist of time and place, albeit ultimately transfiguring, mellowing, expanding, or, as the case seems to be these days, contracting... While infusibility handily finds its cogent niche in many roof terrace designs, and noteworthiness of aerial panoramas fluctuates rather unexpectedly, we strive to demarcate, facilitate and elevate bird's-eye viewpoints in every project as integral and pivotal elements of an immersive and highly connective rooftop experience.
Frequently, rooftop owners wish to preserve a much-loved landmark view altogether, naturally focusing on seating arrangements and vital shelter which heighten the sociability factors of this central leitmotif. While we seek to design and build highly utilisable and flexible roof gardens, the positioning of all-season, all-weather and multi-purpose ingredients maximises this prime focus within thoroughly irresistible landmark gazing recreational activities. The permanence of evergreens and changeability of deciduous floras, moulded dynamically into sky-high architectural roof terraces, interconnect with structural planting which triadically form liveable hubs – providing sanctuary from wind, shaping landmark vistas and promoting all-important seasonality.
restful vantage points
From the reverberant ruckus of the streetscapes below to peaceful, restful altitudinal vantage points, well-integrated private roof gardens merge with urban skyscapes as exceptional and rather paradisal city hideouts. Granted, no roof terrace garden entirely evades atmospheric pollution, aeroplane fumes and river traffic noise, yet the prevalence of local landmark views, their preservation and spatial enhancement sustain especially rewarding rooftop seating areas. While perspectival outlooks aren't necessarily optimised, we design apertured planters, split-level zones, raised platforms and podiums, as well as allotting ample peripheral space as viewing promenades, maximally positioned to admire nearby landmarks. Such is Londoners' devotion to their city landscape, our client at St George Wharf immortalised his incredible vista of Battersea Power Station in a 3-metre painting – displayed in tandem alongside the genuine article – 8 chimneys are better than 4!