mylandscapes contemporary garden design london

low maintenance bermondsey roof terrace

low maintenance roof terrace design london

roof terrace blog / sunny roofs

design & words Amir Schlezingeramir schlezinger

A Dual Aspect

This unique Bermondsey roof terrace is located on the border of London Bridge, forming part of three small terraces surrounding a converted loft, and with both south and north aspects, there was ample scope for developing a diverse rooftop landscape design. We were constructing the terraces next door when asked to commence this project, therefore stayed on site, and linked various roof terrace elements to suit both clients. A low maintenance approach permeates every aspect of the scheme, from undemanding sculptural succulents to straightforward technical apparatus and natural material palettes.

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1. pine 2. view 3. agave 4. maple 5. spears 6. water 7. buddha 8. lavender 9. kalanchoe 10. living aloft

modern roof terrace succulent trough
converted loft bermondsey contemporary roof terrace
roof terrace bespoke hardwood arbour design

1 pine

deck silhouettes

Fond of thorns, spines and prickles, our clients cultivate a small arid plants collection in the warmth of this south-facing terrace. Since the sheltered conditions are optimal for Pines, Aloes and Cacti to thrive, we focused on integrating this valuable flora seamlessly into the new scheme – infusing further character by adding fresh succulents. The architectural roof terrace design is enhanced with turquoise pebbles glistening in balmy sunrays, where the Pine tree projects sculptural silhouettes onto a grid of smooth sandstone and hardwood decking.

2 view

intimate rooftop

The layout design for the south-facing terrace integrates desert essence amid ethnic influences, featuring a waterfall and a shade arbour, while hardwood is repeated across the handrail on top of the parapet wall, as well as horizontal cladding. This intimate roof terrace is abundant in effortless detail design, where every inch of its space is maximised to enable frequent outdoor use, and complements the interior's cosiness. The arbour improves scale, and casts dynamic shadows onto the walls – defining a low-key sunny perching spot.

3 agave

architectural resonance

The cosy seating under the arbour is screened with a trio of Agave americana ‘Variegata’; displayed on the parapet wall, these Mexican succulents are featured in a bespoke slanting trough, and finished in granite chippings to sustain a dry bed. Conditions here are suitable for cultivating arid species, where plants enjoy much sun, enhancing privacy. This minimalist mindset maintains an evergreen architectural design within a minimal upkeep roof terrace planting scheme, and while our clients spend more time travelling than at home, a water efficient roof terrace seems to be the way forwards!

4 maple

leafy canopy

The north-facing roof terrace is shaded yet sheltered, providing an ideal setting for growing woodland plants. An Acer palmatum cultivar, a purple-leaved Japanese maple, is featured above an angular built-in bench in a well-lit, custom-built planter, where its composition keys into a tall Silver birch tree we planted in the neighbours' loft terrace. Designed as a space-saving triangle, this outdoor social hub links to a cantilevered bar in the perimeter wall for entertaining while gazing at the Gherkin, Shard and Tower Bridge. The Japanese maple requires minimal upkeep, and when selecting a fluid outline, without crossing branches, it'll form a graceful space, entailing only a sporadic shear.

roof terrace lighting with architectural japanese maple
stunning roof terrace waterfall detail
custom made modern roof terrace water feature

5 spears

vertical accents

There's great charm in including unusual flora every now and again, and Snake plants provide such horticultural playfulness. The contrast between a dry desert roof terrace and the seductiveness of flowing water synthesises a captivation of opposite, though complementary qualities. The tender species may only last a winter or two, yet this approach of utilising ephemeral seasonal displays forms a practice we draw on to augment clients' willingness to diversify and embrace new roof terrace ideas. Proportionately, maintenance is minimised while enhanced with an exciting new layout – it's our own production of Cactus on a Hot Bermondsey Roof!

6 water

sound & reflection

While the front terrace features an expansive city vista, the design for the back rooftop required its own narrative in the absence of noteworthy landmarks. A 1.8-metre-long, custom-made water feature fits snugly across the terrace width, invigorating the rooftop during summertime. The sizeable waterfall enhances sense of space in this small niche, augmenting the desert plants with sound and aquatic elements, where its powerful, accurately specified pump is pivotal in maintaining a vertical flow in the breeze.

7 buddha

terrace serenity

Our well-travelled clients love to display the ornaments they avidly collect, throughout the jam-packed loft and the three roof terraces which surround it, where such personalisation unfolds their story – a mindset we derive inspiration from and design specifically for. A bijou Buddha statue rests serenely inside a custom-built alcove under the arbour's boundary partition, imparting tranquillity. We constructed a bespoke screen, featuring unique detailed designs for each elevation, where the neighbours' facade is clad in horizontal bands, while here, the deck curves upwards into an exhibit niche.

8 lavender

scented view

The exquisite view towards Tower Bridge from the front terrace is framed with a low hedge of tactile Lavenders. To save precious space, we designed and installed customised roof terrace troughs onto the parapet wall, extending the design we built for the neighbours. The renewed elevation spans the building's entire length, enhancing its Bermondsey streetscape with textured foliage, although tidying these English Lavenders after flowering is pivotal in retaining shipshape form, and that's about the only maintenance they require.

tower bridge roof terrace stunning night view
trendy bermondsey roof terrace buddha statue
low maintenance roof garden colourful succulent

9 kalanchoe

seductive foliage

When the tender Snake plants have withered in a chilly winter, their essence was restored by another set of architectural succulents. This time around, the colourful Red pancake Kalanchoe from South Africa is producing a vibrant focal point; their crimson foliage echoes the hardwood gamut defining the terrace, while the plants remain dry by a covering of small granite chippings. Maintenance is reduced to a bare minimum, until the next lot of succulents takes centre stage!

10 living aloft

integrated spaces

Every nuance in this city suntrap is packed full of personality, from the narrow street turning in the centre of Bermondsey to the quaint building and the clients' anthology of cultural mementos. With a third roof terrace at the back, we sought to integrate the various zones into a cohesive outdoor canvas for our clients to enjoy all year round. To achieve this ambition, we included low upkeep essentials, as we often do in small city gardens. The clients travel every so often – best have a space where they can hop into and relax rather than drudge over!

private bermondsey roof garden design
se1 city roof terrace bermondsey
landscape architect bespoke roof terrace design

– coda –

Bermondsey Roof Terraces

Bermondsey, as Clerkenwell and Farringdon, has rapidly evolved into a predominant hub for roof terrace design, and likewise, throughout Borough, London Bridge and Vauxhall, interlayers of soaring terraces redefine an expanding skyline of landscaped rooftops. We developed over a dozen roof terraces in the neighbourhood; detailing, planting and building outdoor spaces. Ultimately, for our clients, what's better than to entertain in a personalised, individual roof terrace hub?