Green terraces

Designed by Townshend Landscape Architects for developers British Land, the roof terraces at the 8th, 12th 16th and 20th floors of the new Ropemaker office building provide a green oasis amid the hubbub of the City’s financial district.
With their palette of blues, whites, pinks and mauves, the gardens are both visually pleasing and functional. The planting has the added environmental benefit of helping to cool the surrounding atmosphere helping to reduce urban heat gain through shading and transpiration.
The four terraced gardens – representing 50% of the roof area (50,000 sq ft) – are are a key feature of the 20-storey Ropemaker building, a building widely acknowledged to be among the most sustainable office developments in London. The roof gardens serve as a gathering place for staff and visitors and the trees and shrubs have the additional benefit of attracting birds and insects by providing feeding opportunities and nectar sources for them where none existed before.
The landscape design comprises a series of planted mounds, whose forms are based on a mathematical theorem, provide a sense of enclosure and while allowing a series of dynamic spaces to be formed that lead the eye around the terrace or draw it to longer distance views.
The planting concept is:
• The outside facing surfaces of the mounds are planted with evergreen plants, tightly clipped to accentuate the underlying form. The plants chosen, each for a different terrace, are Box (Buxus sempervirens); Box leaved Holly (Ilex crenata) and Winter Box (Sarcococca humilis)
• A series of trees are planted at strategic points on the mounds to reinforce the sense of enclosure, accentuate a view or provide a focal point of interest. The principal specie of trees are Himalayan Silver Birch (Betula jaquemontii), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus contraversa), Snowy mespilus (Amelanchier lamarckii) and Pocket Handkerchief Tree (Davidia involucrata). Each was chosen for the qualities of its form, leaf colour and in some instances also its flowering characteristics. These groupings were reinforced by strategically positioned specimen shrubs to give height and a sense of scale to the planting. The plants chosen are Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), Winter Flowering Cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’) and the Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).
• To provide contrast with external faces of the mounds a mix of low evergreen herbaceous groundcover plants provide season long cover. A series of more vibrant taller herbaceous plants and bulbs are inter planted in randomly positioned groups which give colour movement and season long interest to the space. The plants include Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia), deep blue Sage (Salvia superba ‘Mainacht’), white flowered Yarrow (Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’), white flowered Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’) and Lily of the Valley 9Convallaria majalis), Bugle (Ajuga pyramidalis) and a form of hardy geranium (Geranium renardii) amongst other plants.
A wide range of sustainability measures, which will enable occupiers to reduce energy and water use, cut down waste, decrease carbon emissions and lower associated costs.
In a move to bring more green space back to London, 50% of Ropemaker’s roof area is designated as outdoor roof gardens. Offering stunning city views, the roof terraces will enhance biodiversity, and improve Ropemaker’s attractiveness as a place in which to do business. They have been designed by award winning Townshend Landscape Architects and will be partially covered with a mixture of herbaceous and evergreen plants, shrubs and trees, planted within soil on waterproof membrane.
Other sustainable features include double glazed tilting facades that will reduce the energy required for cooling by up to 27% and allow occupiers to install low energy cooling systems. Renewable energy sources such as solar panels will generate power for heating water and office space. Harvested rainwater will reduce mains water requirements and be collected and re-used in WCs. A target of 15% of building materials by value will have recycled or reused content and there will be large waste recycling accommodation to sort and store waste generated in offices.
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