penthouse roof garden 50m²
Spending time between the Essex countryside and Central London, our clients benefit the best of both worlds, enjoying a divergent yet rewarding polarity of a country landscape garden and an urban roof garden. Living aloft, however alluring, does present its complexities, from tedious lift journeys to hundreds of neighbours, parking hassles, restricted access and the constant crane construction of commercial building sites. Up on the rooftop, the howling wind is indeed a force of nature, while eternal pollution tarnishes every surface, and intense sunrays at times prove rather unbearable. Nevertheless, immersed in the Barbican's cultural crucible, with easy routes into East of England and breathtaking views 400 feet above the city centre, this penthouse roof garden's owners have certainly coordinated optimal liveability factors par excellence – interlinked by reciprocal design elements.
London's skyline gets updated pretty much on a monthly basis with heaps of new and at times rather peculiar edifices. Mooning surreally along the Gherkin's pinnacle while sat in their living room, our clients remain oblivious to all the constructional kerfuffle materialising right outside their doorstep, where triple glazing, a triplex accommodation and a triad of roof terraces create the well-havened foreground for a spellbinding skyscraping anthology. From the O2 to St Paul's Cathedral and the London Eye, there are historic architectural domes galore in this iconic backdrop, steadily multiplying, diversifying and powwowing in tumultuous clusters. On the roof terraces, we all sought to improve the context of this city landscape – delineated not only in geometric planter shapes, colour palettes and outdoor lighting, but also via the greater viewability of an elevated lookout platform – apt for both the Barbican's etymology and Cromwell Tower's partially obscured views.
The Barbican Estate's architectural juxtapositions of curvilinear and rectilinear forms are reiterated in sequences of correlative, bespoke roof terrace planters. The aquamarine and alabaster powder-coatings form a crisp, fresh contrast, mitigating the sternness and colossality of a 1970's grade II listed building and its vast framework of in-situ concrete. The obsolete exoticness of brutalist architecture pivoting this trio of towers remains a Central London landmark, exemplifying the most ambitious post-WW2 residential regeneration project in the capital. Surpassed height-wise only by Pan Peninsula's East Tower by 24 metres, 4 decades later on, the 2,000 apartments which comprise this urban wonder regularly take on new owners with contemporary visions. Although decorative optionality remains somewhat restrictive, the blankness of the outdoor spaces enables creating modern roof gardens with present-day recreational vigour in the exclusiveness of London's most epical of locations and its jaw-dropping panoramas.
Interestingly, unlike the highly dense accommodation ratio of today's urban blocks and their conspicuous lack of outdoor water necessities, the tower's apartment suites were sagaciously equipped with bib taps in the capaciousness of 3 flats per floor. This efficiency of apparatus and broadness of balance facilitates a continuance of rooftop garden landscaping within adaptive and skyline-merged planting blueprints, even though in the vacuum of sombre architecture. Here, habitability is bolstered by structural plants which cloak an archetypal concrete jungle with Ginkgo, Red birch and Olive trees, enveloped by grasses, sedges, ferns, Tasman lilies and even Chinese bamboo in sheltered alcoves. In a truly harsh microclimate, these exceptionally resilient and supremely sculptural floras epitomise sustainable urbanisation through the decades – here, at the very zenith of Cromwell Tower.