37 Years After Opening to the Public, the Kensington Roof Gardens Has Closed Down, by Pedro Dias

April 27, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Kensington Roof Gardens, Now Closed

Kensington Roof Gardens Closed

Public bar of the Kensington Roof Gardens. Photo: Kensington Roof Gardens/Virgin.

Historic Urban Rooftop Garden a Green Oasis

For 80 years, the Kensington Roof Gardens, or The Roof Gardens as it’s known today, has stood as a green oasis in the concrete jungle of London.  It has survived WWII bombings, changes of ownership, and a recent history as a nightclub venue – but for now, it is closed down to the public.

The good news is that as an English Heritage-designated Grade II site, the gardens won’t be going anywhere, and hopefully they will continue to be maintained.  In the UK a building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest, considered to be of national importance and, therefore, worth protecting.  The Kensington Roof Gardens has been added to the National Heritage List for England.

The bad news is that unfortunately, summer visits to appreciate the wisterias, roses, lilies and lavender will no longer be allowed.  This urban garden contains over 100 species of trees, most of them native to the UK, which have been the subject of a preservation order dating back to 1976.

Kensington Roof Gardens Closed

Under the arches. Photo courtesy of Something Different London.

Over time, the garden has had many uses.  Initially, it was built in 1938 for the Derry and Toms store located in the same building.  At the time, rooftop gardens were very fashionable and it is said that to a large extent, the Kensington Roof Gardens was modeled after “The Garden of Nations” which was built from 1933 to 1935 on the 11th floor of the RCA Building at the Rockefeller Center in New York.  Both roof gardens were designed by landscape architect Ralph Hancock.

For a long period of time, the intensive roof gardens were spaces made for shoppers to relax from a stressful day of shopping.

Virgin Ownership

It wasn’t until the late 70’s that a restaurant was built and a private club opened in a section of the garden.  In 1981, the rooftop was leased by Virgin, which opened up large sections of the garden to any visitors wanting to marvel at the 100+ trees present.

Since then, it has been visited by millions of tourists.  Yet, in January 2018 it was announced that the roof gardens would permanently close down to guests.  The company has cited the gardens’ maintenance cost as a primary reason for closing down.

“Virgin Limited Edition occupied The Roof Gardens as a tenant from 1981-2018. It played a key part in the London nightlife scene, showcasing top DJs and live musical talent from across the decades as well as hosting numerous events, showbiz parties, award ceremonies, weddings and dinners in its award winning restaurant Babylon.

After 37 years, in an ever changing London market and in the face of unpredictable market conditions and a challenge to remain profitable, the decision was taken to close our doors.

We would like to thank all of our team members past and present, for the part they played in making this such a special place and our valued guests for all the good times on the roof. We’ll always cherish the memories and our time spent 100ft above the streets of London’s Kensington.” ~ The Roof Gardens, Virgin Limited Edition

Kensington Roof Gardens Closed

A Chilean Flamingo wanders in the Kensington Roof Gardens.  Photo by flickr user Bryce Edwards, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Besides having a huge variety of plants, the gardens also include some species of ducks, flamingos, and birds.

A New Lease on Life?

The question that now remains is who will take over the maintenance costs of this historical roof garden?  Should the British government step in to protect this Grade II site, or should the lease be made available to another private company to come and go as they please?

For now, we’ll have to be content at waiting for a new lease holder so that we can once again enjoy the amazing views and plants that the Kensington Roof Gardens has to offer.

Kensington Roof Gardens Closed

Enjoying the sights at the Spanish Garden within The Roof Gardens. Photo courtesy of Something Different London.

~ Pedro Dias

Publisher’s Note: The Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms) will be featured as Greenroofs.com‘s Project of the Week on Monday, May 7, 2018.

Kensington Roof Gardens Closed

Pedro Dias, a Vancouver based journalist, is the editor of Urban Gardening Digest, an online magazine focused on gardening indoors, on balconies, or small gardens.  His passion are fruit trees and productive plots of land in limited spaces.

Contact Pedro at: pedro@urbangardeningdigest.com

#TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post – Green Roofs: A Sustainability Voucher for Cities?

April 11, 2018 at 3:34 pm

TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post Green Roofs Sustainability Voucher for Cities

Green Roofs: A Sustainability Voucher for Cities?

Sarah Essbai of The Global Grid just posted their Twitter Pre-chat Post online – see Green Roofs: A Sustainability Voucher for Cities? #TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post for our upcoming Twitter Chat.

TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post Green Roofs Sustainability Voucher for Cities

TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post Green Roofs Sustainability Voucher for Cities

Here’s just a short excerpt:

“Sustainability sits at the top of the priorities of many cities across the world, especially since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Paris Climate Agreement by the United Nations in 2015. It is important that the impact of different sustainability measures and solutions, including green roofs, become measurable. More research and data should be collected, at the urban and metropolitan scale, to quantify the contribution of green roofs to achieving city sustainability goals. Measuring green roofs impact on stormwater management, air, and water quality would especially allow cities to strategically allocate resources for the installation of green roofs and make them part of city sustainability agendas.

Does your city have green roofs? How do green roofs contribute to a city’s livability? And what impact do they have on a city’s overall sustainability?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below and join us at #TheGlobalGrid Twitter chat to answer these questions and more, with our co-host, Greenroofs.comLinda Velazquez, ASLA, LEED™ AP, GRP, publisher, and editor of Greenroofs.com will be on our experts’ panel along with Tessa Duste (Moss Amsterdam), Ben Flanner (Brooklyn Grange) and Dusty Gedge (Living Roofs). Save the date: Wednesday, April 18th at 12:00 p.m PT.”

~ Sarah Essbai, The Global Grid

TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post Green Roofs Sustainability Voucher for Cities

Join Dusty Gedge, Tesse Duste, Ben Flanner & me on April 18 for The Global Grid Greenroofs Twitter Chat!

Contribute to #TheGlobalGrid Polls

The Global Grid has three polls up on the Pre-Chat Post: Are there any green roofs in your city?, Which city has the highest rate of vegetated roofs?, and Which city has the highest rate of vegetated roofs?

Contribute your opinion!

Join #TheGlobalGrid and #Greenroofs for a Twitter Chat Together Next Wednesday, April 18

TheGlobalGrid Pre-Chat Post Green Roofs Sustainability Voucher for Cities

The Time?

Join us for the one-hour The Global Grid Twitter Chat held on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 from:

12 pm – 1 pm PT


#TheGlobalGrid Twitter chat

You can also read all about How To Do It there, in case you’re new.

Convert for your time zones, and we hope to hear from you at #TheGlobalGrid Twitter chat with us #Greenroofs next Wedenesday, April 18th, 2018 from 12pm – 1pm PT!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host

#TheGlobalGrid and #Greenroofs Twitter Chat Save the Date: April 18, 2018

April 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

#TheGlobalGrid and #Greenroofs are Hosting a Twitter Chat Together

April is World Landscape Architecture Month, an international celebration of the profession.  What better way to be part of the celebration?  Get in on the action and voice your opinions about greenroofs!

#TheGlobalGrid #Greenroofs Twitter Chat Save the Date April 18, 2018

Sarah Essbai of The Global Grid asked us at Greenroofs.com to co-host their monthly Twitter Chat, and we think it’s a fantastic idea.  Sarah is leading the communications and marketing efforts of The Global Grid and is an architect, urban planner and independent researcher based in Zaandam, The Netherlands.


The one-hour The Global Grid Twitter Chat will be held on Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 from 12pm – 1pm PT.

Look for The Global Grid’s pre-chat post to be published next week, and more info and specifics from us to follow, too.

#TheGlobalGrid #Greenroofs Twitter Chat Save the Date April 18, 2018

The Topic

Greenroofs, of course!  We’ll be focusing on their role in achieving sustainability goals for cities.

The Panelists

There will be four of us on #The Global Grid and #Greenroofs Twitter Chat:

#TheGlobalGrid #Greenroofs Twitter Chat Save the Date April 18, 2018

  • Dusty Gedge, co-founder of Livingroofs.org and the current President of the European Federation of Green Roof Associations (EFB) in London: @greenroofsuk;
  • Tessa Duste, founder of Moss Amsterdam in Amsterdam: @TessaDuste;
  • Ben Flanner, Director of Agriculture, President, and co-founder of Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm in New York City: @bjflanner;
  • And me, Linda S. Velazquez, Publisher and founder of Greenroofs.com in Alpharetta, GA: @greenroofs.

About The Global Grid

Since 2010, The Global Grid has offered localized and unique architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, urban planning and related news every weekday.  The Global Grid uniquely publishes news specific to the town or city in which the author resides or is traveling.  With a 150+ writer alumni, The Global Grid continues to grow as a destination for local environmental design news and perspectives.

About Greenroofs.com

Greenroofs.com is an interactive website, online media company, vibrant social network, and comprehensive online resource Connecting the Planet + Living Architecture and promoting People, Projects & Design.  Greenroofs.com publishes the Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database currently with over 1,700 profiles and the Greenroof & Greenwall Directory plus produces the biennial Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits (2017, 2015, 2013, 2011).

Save the Date Twitter Chat

#TheGlobalGrid #Greenroofs Twitter Chat Save the Date April 18, 2018

Convert for your time zones, and we hope you’ll join #TheGlobalGrid and #Greenroofs on April 18th, 2018 from 12pm – 1pm PT!

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summits Host

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code!

November 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code

Green Roof Ordinance I-300 Passes from Denver Voters by 52%

After a hard fought battle from both sides, the votes were in late last night: Denver voters approved the I-300 Green Roof Code on Tuesday, November 7.  The initiative passed by about 52.5 to 47.5% of the vote, in spite of the fact that the opposition outspent supporters by a margin of 12 to 1.

Starting January 1, 2018, buildings in Denver larger than 25,000 square feet will be required to green a portion of their roofs either with vegetation or solar.

Battle of the Advertising Budgets

Huge financial support was garnered from the opponents of the measure, who spent an estimated $250,000.  In particular, Denver commercial real estate developers, some businesses, and the opposition campaign “Citizens for a Responsible Denver” were the leading challengers to the proposed mandate.

Contrast that amount to the meager $10,000 collected by the Denver Green Roof Initiative over the past months!  Grassroots leader and Denver Green Roof Initiative Campaign Manager Brandon Reitheimer says most of the money was spent on social media advertising.

And in particular, Brandon emphasized the importance of volunteer canvasing across the city, from homes to Democratic house district meetings to neighborhood association meetings.

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code

Denver Botanical Gardens.

Citizen-led Initiative with a Great Reach

The Denver victory is great for all of us in the living architecture field, but especially for the citizens of Denver.  And, hopefully it’s a sign that future municipalities also will provide leadership on sustainability.

The citizen-led initiative had much support from locals and within the greater greenroof community.  Many of us donated money, time, and marketing to the cause, including Greenroofs.com, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC), and others within the U.S. greenroof industry.

Favorable Cost-Benefit Study from Green Roofs for Healthy Cities & Green Infrastructure Foundation

In mid-October, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities prepared a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the economic impact relating to the proposed I-300 Ordinance, entitled Making Informed Decisions: A Green Roof Cost and Benefit Study for Denver.”

GRHC found that widespread greenroof installation would result in 57.5 million square feet of living roofs, and generate $1.85 billion in savings by 2058 and approximately 25,000 job-years in employment over a 15 year period.

“The study doesn’t quantify many important green roof benefits or the solar component in the proposed law. We used conservative data on costs and benefits from Denver which suffers from terrible urban heat island impacts, combined with studies from other jurisdictions that have implemented mandatory green roof requirements,” ~ Andy Creath, Green Infrastructure Foundation board member and president, Green Roofs of Colorado in the 10.13.17 Green Roofs for Healthy Cities & Green Infrastructure Foundation Media Release

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Weighs In

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code

Denver EPA Greenroof.

Mayor Hancock was against the measure, saying it went “too far,” in Denverite but added that the city would implement the will of the people.

“We are concerned that it may mean more initial costs. Once the people have spoken, that’s our job. There may need to be some tweaks, based on legal challenges. Though we were not going to line up and support the initiative, our values align.” ~ Denver is one of the first U.S. cities to require green roofs – so what happens now?

What Does Happen Now?

Regarding the passage of this Initiative, two important items remain:

1. I-300 will be reviewed by a Technical Committee which can put alterations to a vote by the Denver City Council;

2. And in six months, the Denver City Council would have the option of repealing or making changes to the ordinance with a two-thirds majority.

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code

Denver Residence on Quivas Street.

Is Denver Ready?

At present, the mayor and city council members are researching all of the possible opportunities and challenges that might be inherent in implementing the initiative. And Andrea Burns with Denver Community Planning and Development says the new ordinance will take a lot of effort, but that they will make it work for the people of Denver.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities says it will continue to work with local groups, the Technical Committee, and the Denver City Council to strengthen and support the initiative and grow the area greenroof market.

Leila Tolderlund, LEED AP, GRP, an assistant professor in the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning – and one of our Speakers at the Greenroofs.com Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit 2017 – provided commentary to Denverite:

“We’re ready,” Tolderlund said of the landscape architects of Denver. Bring it on.” ~ Denver is one of the first U.S. cities to require green roofs – so what happens now?

Kudos to All

Congratulations to the tireless and persistent volunteers at Denver Green Roof Initiative, in particular Brandon Reitheimer, for their incredible work on passing the first fully citizen-led ballot initiative of this kind in Denver!

Additional work needs to be accomplished to keep Initiative 300 on track for next January 1, and you can count on us for continued media support.

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code

Community College of Denver.

For additional information, contact Brandon Reitheimer at Brandon@denvergreenroof.org or call (717) 433-3663.

By Linda S. Velazquez, ASLA, LEED AP, GRP
Greenroofs.com Publisher & Greenroofs & Walls of the World™ Virtual Summit Host

Register now and join us online for our 2017 Virtual Summit through December, 2017.  Round #2 started on October 16th!

Denver Voters Pass I-300 Green Roof Building Code