London's sky-high new homes with roof gardens and outdoor rooms

Londoners crave their own outdoor space in the city. Garden squares, sky gardens and even veg plots are set among the capital's latest luxury homes.
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Useable outside space is now often considered as important as a fabulous interior when it comes to designing new homes. Architects who cut their teeth in the age of concrete are today focusing on living walls, sky gardens, green roofs, communal allotments and projecting glass-walled winter gardens — or  “outdoor rooms” — that can be used as giant window boxes for home-grown produce and year-round living.

Growing for gold
Developer London Square’s Fresh Garden won a gold medal at Chelsea Flower Show this year, alongside fellow house builder Countryside, which produced a “multi-sensory” space using textures, sounds, tastes and smells to stimulate all the senses. The Countryside design stems from a collaboration with charity RNIB, whose Redhill support centre is to be redeveloped into homes for blind people alongside properties for private sale.

At the Redhill scheme a listed Tudor mansion is being converted into flats and 80 new houses. Call 01277 260000. 

£4.5 million:
for a three-bedroom duplex at Cheyne Terrace, with living walls and classical-style architecture. Call 020 7758 3180
A green vision
While helping to tackle climate change and encouraging biodiversity, there is growing recognition that thoughtful landscape design promotes personal health and wellbeing.

Leading developers have also signed up to a good practice charter, part of a collective “green” vision that aims to put nature and imaginative landscaping at the heart of new residential communities, creating private sanctuary space for residents as well as an uplifting public realm.

“The setting of new homes is as important as the homes themselves. It enriches our neighbourhoods and makes our city a much better place to live in,” says Richard Blakeway,  London’s deputy mayor for housing and land.

With its Royal Parks, garden squares and myriad open spaces, London is already the greenest city in Europe. On the agenda are imaginative new ways to weave green space into the fabric of the city so Londoners do not have to go in search of it.

With remarkable foresight, Westminster council has given detailed planning consent to the landscaping of the prestigious Chelsea Barracks redevelopment ahead of the building work. This means the houses and apartments at the 13-acre walled estate will be designed to fit around squares with apple orchards and hazel groves, and allotments that will provide food for residents and on-site restaurants. Construction is expected to start later this year.

Homes are for sale now at a nearby green project called Cheyne Terrace, a new-build apartment scheme of distinction where living walls form part of the façade and private terraces. These vertical gardens, with 20 different plants, provide a wildlife habitat and a noise buffer as well as a wonderful green backdrop that softens the classical-style architecture. Prices from £4.5 million for a three-bedroom duplex. Call 020 7758 3180.
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From £800,000: flats with sky gardens at Canaletto, Islington. Call 020 7608 1825 
Other large housing projects — at Nine Elms, Earls Court, King’s Cross, Stratford and Docklands — incorporate new parks, garden squares, play areas, green art installations and dazzling water features, while new residential towers such as the sculptural 31-storey Canaletto, in Islington, have beautifully designed communal sky gardens and amenity space on the upper floors. Prices from £800,000. Call 020 7608 1825 for details.
A linear park at Nine Elms will be the pedestrian spine of a new district between Vauxhall Bridge and Battersea Power Station, passing through Embassy Gardens, a complex of 1,982 homes that will form a horseshoe around the new US embassy due for completion in 2016.
In the Middle Ages, Goodman’s Fields, by Aldgate, was a farm supplying the City’s food needs. Before the banking collapse in 2008, it was a gated business estate but is now being opened up and turned into a new quarter with 920 homes, a hotel, shops and eateries. Within the seven-acre estate, landscape architects Murdoch Wickham are creating an “urban retreat”, with public park, squares and lusciously landscaped courtyards. Apartments cost from £672,500. Call 020 3217 1000.

From £380,000:
441 flats at a landmark waterside scheme overlooking the Grand Union Canal in Alperton. Call 020 8997 3373
Ivy Waterside is an address that conjures up a vision of bucolic bliss. In fact, it is a scheme of 24 “metro” apartments built alongside a run-down section of the Regent’s Canal in Hackney. While the steel façade reflects the location’s industrial legacy, to the rear of the development, overlooking the canal, is a much softer planted wall.
Rough-hewn stone gabion walls, normally used by civil engineers to stabilise shorelines and embankments in the countryside, have an outside layer of ivy, clematis and honeysuckle, while nesting boxes are incorporated to attract bird species such as swifts, martins and song thrushes and to allow new eco-systems to form. Over time, vegetation permeates voids between the natural stone wall and reinforces the structure.

Unified inside-outside space is also a hallmark of a new generation of townhouses boasting open-plan family rooms that flow into attractively planted, water-efficient gardens with stone terraces or a decked patio for relaxing and entertaining. 

Tapestry at King’s Cross Central comprises sleek, modern houses with double-height space set around sky gardens. Prices from £2 million. Call Knight Frank on 020 7861 5499.

Gold medal winner:
Jo Thompson has been commissioned to design the private garden of the showhome in London Square Fulham. Call 0333 666 2737
Garden Square is a winner
At the heart of a new development of 40 Georgian-style townhouses in densely packed Fulham is a private garden square. The formally designed communal space at the London Square Fulham scheme, pictured, mixes traditional and modern elements, along with sculpture.

“As in Italy, where I grew up, squares have been part of London life for centuries — they help transport you to another place,” says Kent garden designer Jo Thompson, whose Fresh Garden for developer London Square scooped gold at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Now Thompson has been commissioned to design the private garden of the showhome in the square, in Farm Lane, where prices start at £2.6 million. Call 0333 666 2737.

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