I am always keen to visit newly created gardens, so whilst in London for a few days last month, I read of a new garden in the City which had only opened the week before and just had to pay a visit.
The Square Mile of the City of London has some 60 green roofs but not all of them are accessible to the public. The Garden at 120 is the largest rooftop space and offers amazing 360 degree views of the City and Greater London. Furthermore, it is free and no booking is required!
Arriving in Fenchurch Street, I found 120 Fen Court and entered the building. Following a quick airport style check, I was ushered to the lift and with a quick swoosh was soon 15 floors up!
Lift and stairs to restaurant below
On an unseasonably sunny warm day, many city workers were taking a break from their desks. I understand a coffee kiosk will be added in the garden soon.
Swathes of different grasses add movement to the garden
Tightly clipped mature boxwood hedges form a zig zag parterre
The garden was designed by Eric Parry the founder of Eric Parry Architects alongside landscape architects Latz-Partner. Obviously only recently laid out, the planting will need time to grow and establish, but I shall definitely return to see how the garden matures.
The garden is filled with many well established plants, shrubs, hedges and climbers. Inspired by English country gardens it has espaliered fruit trees and wisteria to soften the lines of the steel pergola.
Cream timber textured concrete walls will provide a great backdrop for the climbing plants and fruit trees.
Ferns and climbing hydrangeas on the shadier northern side
A rill with integral seating runs along the south side of the perimeter walkway. This will be a tranquil refuge for visitors escaping the heat and dust at street level come high summer!
The perimeter walkway offers a birds eye view of the City and of Greater London.
Views towards Tower Bridge and the Tower of London
Nicholas Hawksmoor’s Christ Church Spitalfields stands out between the high rise buildings
Views towards Canary Wharf are framed by colourful cranes
St Pauls Cathedral looks quite diminutive! The external services and fire escapes of the iconic “inside out” Lloyds Building designed by Richard Rogers, shine in the sun!
Up close and personal to another iconic building 30 St Mary Axe, previously known as the Swiss Re Building designed by Norman Foster and now more commonly known as The Gherkin! Views of this building from ground level are gradually becoming obscured with the number of high rise developments springing up around it… so if you want good view, visit this roof garden!
A close neighbour at 20 Fenchurch Street is the “Walkie-Talkie” building named after its distinctive shape! Designed by Rafael Vinoly this top heavy form boasts another garden the Sky Garden which I wrote about some time ago…see here Sky Garden
Aerial photograph from Google Earth shows a birds eye view of the 120 Garden. It is one of the few publicly accessible roof top gardens which you can walk all around.
I hope that this new garden in the sky provides a welcome break for the city worker’s busy lives and that it will give visitors to London a new destination from which to see fine views across the city.
120 Garden pinpointed from the air by Google Earth
I also hope that it will provide a refuge for wildlife. Many birds are quite at home in urban cityscapes, with in particular, Peregrine Falcons regularly nesting on high buildings which to them are no different from a cliff face! Some of these birds nest on the flat top roofs of the banks at Canary Wharf, kept warm by the red halogen lights used as aircraft markers for City Airport! Black Redstarts too which once colonised the city’s bomb sites are back and often use flat green roofs in the city to breed.
So I descend back to ground level to see another publicly accessible attraction!
Fen Court sits in an area of narrow pedestrian streets which have characterised the street plan for centuries. One of these in the Undercroft has been transformed into a wide passageway where a piece of outstanding public art has been installed. Created by award winning artists Vong Phaophanit and Claire Oboussier is a digital camera obscure like soffit screen on the ceiling. Here are a few of the images…
On leaving I glanced up for a last glimpse of the 120 Garden…
You would never know it was there!