Roots in the Sky, London

Location: Blackfriars, London

Client: Fabrix London

Style: Commercial workspace

Project: Commercial & International, Selected Projects, Work in Progress

“When we asked Harris Bugg Studio to create an exceptional rooftop landscape for us, we were blown away by the boldness of their response. Their forest on a roof hit our brief so perfectly, we even used their idea as inspiration for the name of the building - Roots in the Sky. What’s so valuable to us about working with HBS is that not only are they creatively outstanding - pushing the boundaries and designing the extraordinary - but they are also technically rigorous, with a full understanding of function, construction, commercial requirements, architectural requirements, longevity and sustainability”.

Clive Nichol, CEO, Fabrix London

London’s first-ever rooftop forest has been designed by Harris Bugg Studio as part of a radical reimagining of urban workspace.

This 1.4 acre urban forest of over 100 established trees and 10,000 plants, 1300 tonnes of soil and 1.5m deep tree pits will see the former Blackfriars Crown Court transformed into a next-generation workspace.  Designed by Harris Bugg Studio, it is set to be one of the largest urban roof gardens in Europe. The building will offer extensive access to the local community and public via its community gardens, rooftop restaurant, bar, swimming pool and private terraces. It will make a significant contribution to London’s ambitious targets for greening, biodiversity and sustainability. 

The existing 1960s building – a former stationery office and later a Crown Court – is the starting point to develop an office building of up to 40,000 sq ft. Using the existing footings and retaining the first two storeys, the proposed scheme introduces a lightweight hybrid steel and CLT frame, with the ability to support the urban forest – and its 1300 tonnes of soil and 1.5m deep tree pits.

Roots in The Sky sets out to demonstrate the value of placemaking in a commercial office building, and how by bringing inspiring new community spaces into commercial development there is benefit to the neighbourhood and tenants alike.

The rooftop and building landscaping exceeds the urban forest criteria set out by the United Nations, providing canopy cover of 23%, uses a passive water capture and irrigation system and reintroduces wildlife to the city. It brings together the community, public and private areas with spectacular views across London.

The building will have best in class environmental and wellbeing accreditations including BREEAM outstanding and WELL Platinum and 25,000 sqft is dedicated to affordable workspace.

The design won a New London Award in the ‘unbuilt category’ and a Prolandscaper Podium Award in 2021.