Terraced design is by Gillespies

Sky Garden opens at Walkie Talkie

The Sky Garden at the infamous ‘Walkie Talkie’, the Rafael Vinoly- designed building at 20 Fenchurch Street in the City of London, is now officially open. At a crowded opening ceremony, Alan Yarrow, the Lord Mayor of London, planted a loquat tree, a native of Malaysia, where he was born.

This fits with the theme selected by the landscape team at Gillespies: a series of richly planted terraces each evoking a particular landscape. The top terrace is a cool deep-shade forest made of tree fern and fig trees. The middle terrace brings a transition in scale from the forest down to a display of ancient cycads. The lower terrace is filled with sun-loving plants bursting with colours throughout the year.

The planting to the lower terrace is dominated by drought resistant Mediterranean and South African species. Individual plants have been selected to work in harmony with the particular quality of light found under the glass roof canopy. These include herbs such as rosemary which will be used in the restaurants also on the Sky Garden.

Detailed studies were commissioned to ascertain the microclimate created by the glass enclosure. Light and shade and temperature studies revealed a space with a complex range of conditions. The planting had to adapt to its passive environment from day one with deeper shade planting at one end and dry Mediterranean planting at the other end.

Initially all the plants were going to be brought up by the service lift, but eventually the building programme was changed, leaving off some of the roof glazing panels, and allowing the larger plants to be craned into place.

The project also includes a green wall, on the blank wall of a service centre that sits within the curtilage of the building (beneath one of the overhangs). This is, claims Gillespies, the largest living wall in London.

Landscape architect lead:                                          Gillespies
Horticultural and glasshouse expertise:                   Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew
Specialist planting design:                                         Growth Industry
Landscape contractor:                                                 Willerby Landscapes
Greenwall design specialist:                                      Biotecture


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