Floating Roof Garden on the River Thames — Landscape Architects Network

Floating Roof Garden on the River Thames - Landscape Architects Network

Designer Amir Schlezinger creates a luxurious floating roof garden.

This 2500-square-foot northwest facing private roof terrace is situated on the 7th floor of Bridge House – the first of 5 towers at St George Wharf – the flagship development of St George PLC. The client, a recruitment consultant, asked me to rework what was a barren landscape of concrete slabs and withered plants to create a low maintenance Mediterranean entertainment space – the highlight of what is otherwise a rather small apartment. This was to be arguably the largest landscaped terrace on the Thames.

Concept plan; credit: Amir Schlezinger

The client had acquired the apartment off-plan having had a great eye for its potential. Yet the task at hand was a daunting one: the exposure to vicious winds from the west, the baking heat and ferocious pollution due to Vauxhall Bridge’s relentless traffic and river vehicles meant careful design considerations. Additionally, there was a privacy issue with the other buildings in the development towering above the terrace. Yet the client stirred the project with determination and vision: he had already hired out both apartment and terrace for television and film shoots so he knew this could be a great adventure.

The crowning glory was the river views: The cinematic James Bond feel with the MI6 building to the right framed by the London Eye and Houses of Parliament in the distance and Battersea Power Station to the left, basked in the setting sun. The access and logistics seemed impossible at first – how were we to remove 10 tonnes of concrete and import 20 tonnes of fresh materials 25 meters in the air via an enclose courtyard down below?

The client found a furniture lift company whose smart little trucks could lift 300kg in 20 seconds in the smallest of spaces – this was the lifeline we needed. So myself and 6 guys put our aprons on for the whole summer; we had everything we needed including a great client who understood construction and had just managed to finish the London Marathon, despite his asthma…

Crane to the rescue! Photo credit: Amir Schlezinger

My first reaction was to work with the unusual boat shape of the building – this meant repeating its contours for a congruous outline even though it was to be slightly formal and symmetrical – an attitude I rarely get to employ in my otherwise more abstract designs. That said, this formed a strong, solid layout that would sit comfortably in its surroundings yet be minimalist – fitting within my design vocabulary and intent.

Floating Roof Garden on the River Thames - Landscape Architects Network

An overall view of the roof garden; photo credit: Timothy Soar

Ironically, the building managed to win a derogatory accolade having been voted in thetop 20 ugliest structures in London … It also had every other terrace in the site peering into the space. The living room was set as a cinema room with darkened glass, curtains and a giant projector. All these architectural, visual and amenity factors meant the surfaces needed simplicity and the planting a certain formality to create screening. Curved raised beds situated at the centre would anchor the design, framing the steps to the upper area.

Entertainment space; photo credit: Timothy Soar

I selected Blanc de Bierges slabs to form the main area, contrasting with an iroko deck detailed in varying board widths. An artificial grass covers the top section which was a cost effective solution, provided 3 holes for mini-golf and added much-needed verdancy when not much in the way of green is in the background.

Leave a Reply