Battersea roof gardens:1,200ft-long 'forest in the sky' has a fitness deck, rooftop pool - and plants that can't blow away in high winds

The landscape architect behind London's spectacular Olympic Park talks about the challenges of designing a sky-high garden near one of London's most iconic new developments.

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Designing a garden in the sky created unique challenges for James Corner — including strapping plants down so they won’t blow away in high winds.

Corner, the landscape architect behind New York’s High Line linear park and the spectacular Olympic Park planting in 2012, designed the open space which gives the name to Battersea Roof Gardens, the new Norman Foster flats beside Battersea Power Station.

“The fact it is raised up so high means you get some extraordinary views of the Thames, and really unusual close-up views of Battersea Power plant,” says Corner, founding partner and chief executive of James Corner Field Operations, based in New York. “And it is a linear site, which immediately suggests some sort of journey or pathway.”

The garden is almost 1,200ft long, so residents will be able to wander from viewing point to private seating area, stopping off at the “fitness deck” for an exercise class, or pausing to enjoy the “forest in the sky” — a copse of young maple, birch and aspen trees, some with hammocks strung into their branches. 

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Landscape architect: James Corner

Trees and larger shrubs are at particular risk of uprooting in high winds, so Corner’s team anchored their root balls to the roof using nylon straps. There is also a lawn for sunbathing, and a rooftop pool. Individual plants have been chosen for their year-round colour, from jolly spring daffodils to the red berries of holly bushes in winter. The whole garden is encircled by a hedge, while plenty of ferns and grasses will give the space a lush, textured effect.

A favourite section of Corner’s is the summer kitchen, a long communal farm table beside a herb garden and barbecue area. He hopes residents will bond over an outdoor meal. “The idea is that people can come up and pick rosemary or thyme and put it on their chicken when they take it off the grill,” he says. 

Battersea Roof Gardens prices start at £1.33 million for a two-bedroom flat (batterseapowerstation.co.uk).


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