An Architectural Backdrop
The Shard's elevation forms a prominent highlight across this London Bridge city roof terrace, where a minimalist outline design focuses on responding to a clear-cut architectural backdrop in its layout, lighting and planting, within a distinctly luminous, exceptionally metropolitan skyline. Custom-designed, apertural planter duos, displayed along the roof terrace balustrade, produce unique cavity lighting, and increase sense of space – reducing the perimeter walls' impact, while echoing the Shard's extraordinary facade.
Design & Words: Amir Schlezinger
city roof terrace 40m²
Perched on the seventh floor, halfway up Antonine Heights near London Bridge, the terrace faces north towards the city, benefiting from up-close, Shard and Canary Wharf panoramas. To balance an elongated roof terrace layout, we created a symmetrical composition of buff sandstone sections on each end, where natural stone paving frames a hardwood deck midway, while both materials are bordered with vibrant LED strip lights. In combining four lighting methods, the terrace's city panorama is enhanced at sundown, when a scintillating lightscape unfolds into an urban night sky. It was enjoyable designing homage to the old Salt Cellar, following its rebirth into the Shard of Glass in Southwark, where our troughs' apertures reiterate this 310-metre-high skyscraper's central lit section, amid its surreal landscape of abseilers, descending a neo-futuristic, 11,000-glass-pane facade.
Cedar cladding and an evergreen Strawberry tree hedge enhance privacy on the terrace's left boundary, with focal point Silver birch trees providing pivotal, tall scale. Featured in bespoke planters, and repeated at the rooftop's outer sections, the Birches generate graceful movement in breezy river airstreams. Seating is situated towards the Shard, enveloped by architectural Palm trees and sprawling, culinary herbs. Three pairs of streamlined planters define the city's elevation, where their slim profiles extend precious, usable space across the rooftop terrace, enabling a rotation of seasonal displays. Given the gusty wind, we utilised low-lying foliage along the frontage, while preserving this terrace's expansive, architectonic landscape views.
City Roof Landscape
The innovative outdoor lighting design, throughout this roof terrace, is pivotal in linking to its cityscape, achieving a sense of place in a densely built-up part of South London. Designing a city roof terrace in close proximity to imposing architecture requires clarity, amid a clean-lined, minimalist framework. Realising this concept is another matter, when vehicular access is non-existent, and the development's lift is inadequately small. In order to construct the terrace with long lengths of wood, and plant tall, specimen trees, the building's narrow stairways formed the only viable option – albeit a strenuous schlep!
While Silver birch and Palm trees provide sculptural structures, the perimeter troughs infuse colour with seasonal roof terrace planting schemes. Zoned lighting produces a combination of white, yellow and blue hues, which illuminates architectural elements theatrically. An efficient, low maintenance design preserves the roof terrace's integral landscaping essence, where hardwood patina is elevated with oiling, and natural sandstone pavers remain pollution free via jet washing biannually. Automatic irrigation further enhances plant performance all year round, fulfilling the bare necessities of a London city terrace.