London’s rooftop building boom: high-rise gardens on top of skyscrapers, homes and offices across the capital now cover more space than Hyde Park
The boom in roof gardens means London’s elevated green spaces now cover 371 acres — bigger than Hyde Park — beating other cities known for their high-rise gardens, including Singapore and Tokyo.
The trend comes from architects, planners and developers who are all looking to the skies to provide open space and help combat climate change.
These spaces are being created on top of skyscrapers, private homes and commercial buildings, resulting in a patchwork of green roofs spreading across London’s skyline.
Barratt London’s Fulham Riverside development, completed 18 months ago and sold out, boasts an award-winning roof garden with 6,600 plants, 108 trees and a 10ft waterfall.
Developers are increasingly using roof gardens as a marketing tool.
Among projects currently under way, Islington Square, on the site of the former North London Royal Mail sorting and delivery centre just off Upper Street, has penthouse flats that come with private roof terraces featuring swimming pools and gardens (islingtonsquare.co.uk).
And atop Battersea Roof Gardens, the new Norman Foster-designed building under construction beside Battersea Power Station (batterseapowerstation.co.uk), a 1,200ft-long roof garden has been designed by James Corner, the landscape designer who created New York’s High Line linear park.
When complete, the gardens will have trees and large plants anchored into place against high winds, along with a sun lawn and hedgerows.
Meanwhile, at Circus West, another of the Battersea buildings, the green roof has been designed specifically as a habitat for black redstarts, an endangered species of bird.
Dusty Gedge, president of the European Federation of Green Roof and Wall Associations, or the EFB, says: “While there is a degree of evidence that green roofs can remove particulates associated with air pollution, it’s the space they provide for people that is more important.
“Buildings make up the majority of a city’s footprint. These buildings should be the perfect platform for parks, gardens and unofficial nature reserves. In this way, people and wildlife have access to greenery. And where there is greenery the air is likely to be fresher.”
The increase in the number of London green roofs was revealed in a report by the EFB.