The stunning Panoramic Sky Gardens occupying the entire 27th floor at residential tower Landmark Pinnacle are the result of a thoughtful design collaboration that utilised the skills of experts from across the architecture and landscape industries.
The indoor garden embraces biophilia to ensure residents benefit from connecting with nature including wellness, productivity and socialising with other residents against a backdrop of London’s iconic Skylines of both East London and West London. Over 3,500 plants have created a spectacular tropical garden and a space dedicated for children to play and be inspired into gardening.
Chalegrove Properties, the developer of Landmark Pinnacle, working with Squire and partners and Farrer Huxley evolved the vision for all the garden floors and rooftop fulfilling the amenity and open space needs for residents and successfully gaining planning for the scheme. Landscape experts Gillespies were appointed to realise the scheme’s pioneering and ambitious planting vision, working with Phil Griffiths, Director of Verdant Horticulture and former Head Horticulturalist at Kew Botanical Gardens.
We spoke to Armel Mourgue, Partner, Gillespies, about their involvement in the project and the future of landscape architecture.
How did this design collaboration come about and at what stage did Gillespies become involved in the project?
Squire & Partners with Farrer Huxley had defined a vision and concept for a series of internal amenity floors within Landmark Pinnacle. Level 27 in particular was imagined as a green garden. Gillespies was invited by Chalegrove Properties Limited to review the concept and discuss the feasibility of a green indoor garden on Level 27. This was off the back of the work the practice delivered at the Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street with Phil Griffiths, Director of Verdant Horticulture, and we attended a first workshop with Chalegrove and the team.
What was your role and responsibilities as the landscape architects?
Our first responsibility was to review the microclimate conditions of Level 27. Indoor gardens need a balance of several parameters including light, irrigation, humidity, temperature, and air movement. Once a baseline was established, we worked with Chalegrove and Squire + Partners to suggest additional measures that would give the optimum conditions for plants in this garden.
Once the parameters were agreed and built into the design, we designed the planting to create two distinct gardens – the East Garden consisting of a series of lounge areas divided by gardens and the West Garden offering a green and playable garden for residents and children to enjoy.
What was the most challenging part about this project?
We had to make sure that light levels were appropriate for a garden that would thrive and survive. Many studies were undertaken to create a baseline, and then we tested a number of artificial light solutions.
What is the future of landscape architecture within urban areas?
To function, our cities and town centres need infrastructure (rail, tube, roads, bridges etc) and space or public realm (streets, squares, open space, parks). But what we are seeing across the globe is a movement to bring nature into cities and landscape architecture is playing a leading role.
Recent pandemic events have offered us a sense of an alternative ‘greener’ reality, one with cleaner air and a renewed appreciation of how contact with nature, its flow and seasonality can improve our wellbeing. Green spaces have become the centre of our daily activity. We have become more aware of the nature that exists around us, and our relationship to that nature has increased.
This movement for greener cities is not new, but the pandemic has accelerated its progression. Landscape Architects together with Architects, Ecologists and Horticulturists have the opportunity to shape a new way of living, working and playing in our cities.
What are you working on next?
We are in the final design stages of the new Google Headquarters in Kings Cross. Gillespies has designed the 300m-long roof top park that will provide Googlers with several amenity gardens, a 200-meter “trim trail” for runners and outdoor working spaces. This project is part of a growing number of green buildings that we are designing and planning in London at the moment.
We are also leading several large landscape masterplans to create new, highly sustainable residential neighbourhoods, such as Elephant Park (London) for Lendlease and masterplanning the Brent Cross Town (London) public realm for Related Argent, where a new Park Town of 6700 homes set in 50 acres of green parks and playing fields is being built.
Throughout our work, our Planting Design Unit is looking at the use of resilient and adaptive planting to tackle climate change. We are looking into plant typologies that can withstand longer periods of drought and use less water but also typologies that are designed to receive water run-off from buildings and streets in storm events, acting as sponges throughout the development.