Greenroofs.com Project of the Week for May 7, 2018: Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)

May 6, 2018 at 4:12 pm


Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & TomsKensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)
London, UK
65,340 sf Greenroof

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week: May 7, 2018

London’s iconic and beautiful 1938 Kensington Roof Gardens – and celebrity party venue – closed its doors to the public in early January.  Citing an ever changing London market and unpredictable market conditions, Virgin Limited Edition decided to close their doors.

As an English Heritage-designated Grade II Site added to the National Heritage List for England, the gardens will remain intact but who will maintain the site, with its four resident flamingos, is up in the air.  The historic Derry & Toms Roof Gardens was designed by Ralph Hancock, the same designer as the equally famous ‘Garden of the Nations’ of 1933-1935 atop the eleventh floor of the RCA building at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Also read the April 27, 2018 guest feature 37 Years After Opening to the Public, the Kensington Roof Gardens Has Closed Down by Pedro Dias here on Greenroofs.com for more info on this important urban greening project.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: @theroofgardens (Instagram account now closed).

Mini Description & Details

The Roof Gardens (formerly known as Derry and Toms Roof Gardens and the Kensington Roof Gardens) is a 6,000 m2 exotic urban oasis situated six floors up and 100 feet above Kensington High Street in London.  Closed as of January 2018, Virgin Limited Edition, the most recent leaseholder, was not able to reach an agreement with the freeholder about renewal of the lease.

Previously occupied and made famous by the Derry & Toms Department Store, The Roof Gardens has been owned by Sir Richard Branson since 1982.  Part of Virgin Limited Edition, they hosted a members’ club, a private function venue and the Babylon Restaurant on the seventh floor overlooking the gardens.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo: @theroofgardens

The Roof Gardens was open to the public during this time.  In 1936, Welsh landscape architect Ralph Hancock designed the roof garden.  Over a two-year period Hancock planted more than 500 species of plants and shrubs within 18-36” of growing media in the one and a half acre site.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

A plan of the roof gardens in a 1950s promotional pamphlet” – designed by Ralph Hancock – from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

L: “A Garden in the Sky” from Parks and Gardens UK; R: “A Spanish garden on a roof in London” from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

The Derry and Toms Roof Gardens opened in May 1938.  Queen Mary and other members of the British Royal family visited the roof gardens early after opening.  At the time, the roof garden was London and Europe’s largest intensive greenroof.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

“Queen Mary visiting the roof gardens” from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Flamingos in the Woodland Garden.  Photo: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

The three themed gardens include: the Spanish Garden, planted with palm trees with a court of fountains, as well as Moorish colonnades and vine-covered walkways; the formal Tudor Courtyard, which features Hancock’s trademark herringbone brickwork pathways and impressive Tudor-inspired arches; and the English Woodland Garden, with over 100 trees and a flowing stream with fish, ducks, and four resident flamingos.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photos: The Roof Gardens/Virgin.

More

Now closed after 37 years of one of London’s best-known nightlife scenes and event venues, plans for The Roof Gardens remain uncertain.

As an English Heritage-designated Grade II Site, the gardens will not be demolished but who will maintain the site is unknown.  London’s most famous and historic roof garden may still yet have a future as a secret garden in the sky.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Dave Walker’s Derry and Toms Roof Garden Postcard from the Trevor Bowen Estate from The Library Time Machine of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Kensington_roof_gardens_tent.jpg” by flickr user Bryce Edwards CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Kensington_roof_gardens_window.JPG” by Tomhannen at English Wikipedia Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Year: 1938
Owner:
Virgin Limited Edition
Location:
London, England, UK
Building Type:
Commercial
Type:
Intensive
System:
Custom
Size:
65340 sq.ft.
Slope:
1%
Access:
Accessible, Private

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photos courtesy of Something Different London.

Designers/Manufacturers of Record:

Commissioned by: Trevor Bowen, Barkers
Landscape Architect: Ralph Hancock
Architect: Bernard George
2008-2009 Restoration: Conservation Officer, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, English Heritage, Colwyn Foulkes and Randle Siddeley
The Roof Gardens Head Gardener: David Lewis

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

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

All the Info:

View the Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms)  project profile to see ALL of the Photos and Additional Information about this particular project in The International Greenroof & Greenwall Projects Database.

Greenroofs.com Project Week Kensington Roof Gardens Derry & Toms

Photo courtesy of Something Different London.

Project of the Week Video Feature

Watch the Kensington Roof Gardens (The Roof Gardens, Derry & Toms) Project of the Week Video below or see it on our GreenroofsTV channel on YouTube:

Greenroofs.com Project of the Week 5/07/18 video photo credits: Courtesy of Something Different London; Virgin Limited Edition; Dave Walker’s Derry and Toms Roof Garden Postcard, Trevor Bowen and Miss Diana Wynyard 1940s, and Spanish Garden from the Trevor Bowen Estate from The Library Time Machine of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Local Studies Library;  A Spanish garden on a roof in London,  A plan of the roof gardens in a 1950s promotional pamphlet, and Queen Mary visiting the roof gardens from the House of Fraser Archive at the University of Glasgow Library; @theroofgardens (Instagram account now closed); Derry’s Kensington, A Garden in the Sky, and Sun Pavilion Derry Gardens from Parks and Gardens UKDerry & Toms 26.JPG by Edwardx, Own work licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Kensington_roof_gardens_tent.jpg by flickr user Bryce Edwards CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons; and Kensington_roof_gardens_window.JPG by Tomhannen at English Wikipedia Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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Love the Earth, Plant a Roof (or Wall)!

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

London Olympic Park: Star of the Show

August 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

By  Dr. Nigel Dunnett
Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology
Director, The Green Roof Centre
Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield

The London Olympic Park is the largest new urban park to be created in Europe for 150 years.  For the first time in Olympic history, the park is as important as the buildings, and for many people it is the star of the show.

Although none of the main sporting venues have green roofs, they have been used widely on the athlete’s village.  However, because of the huge security operation carried out during the building of the games, and during the operation of the games, access and publicity has been virtually non-existent.

Yet, there is a very prominent living wall next to the Olympic Velodrome.  Composed of a vertical sedum mat system, it has been fertilised and irrigated to the point that it presents a verdant bright green, highly textural surface.

In my opinion, although this is not the best approach to take for widespread use, it has definitely raised the profile of living walls:  the crowds of people of have felt it, examined it and photographed are a testament to that.  

I have been involved with the planting in the Olympic Park from the outset in 2007, responsible with my colleague James Hitchmough, for developing the overall planting strategy for the park, and then producing the specifications for vegetation mixes, and, over the last two years, working on site with the landscape contractors to install and manage the plantings.

Unlike most urban parks – where mown lawns are the norm with groups of standard trees, and if there are any wild areas, they tend to be hidden away from the high profile locations – the Olympic Park turns this concept on its head, with meadows, woodlands and wetlands being the main planting types within which sit areas of spectator lawns, where huge outdoor TV screens relay the action.

From the outset we wanted to make this a very forward-looking park, and highly ecological and sustainable.  It has been a major challenge: everything had to be flowering and performing at its best on the day of the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012 and then to continue looking good for a further 7 weeks right through to the end of the Paralympics.

We made the meadows flower-rich, partly to create a visual spectacle for the 5 million visitors who will be at the site over the summer, but also to attract as many pollinating insects as possible.

In fact, biodiversity considerations have been paramount: the park only received planning permission because it had a biodiversity action plan to create 125 acres of new native habitat (this makes up nearly all of the greenspace of the park).  Even the McDonald’s is set in a flowering meadow!

For the first time in the UK, water-senstive design principles lie at the heart of the design of a major public park. The Landform in the park is dramatic, with a series of artificial hills and valleys.  All the runoff from the hills drains to bioswales, which also line all of the main paths through the park, and the main pedestrian concourse.

These swales are planted with species-rich wet meadow vegetation at their base. The water drains to collecting ponds and rain gardens.

The Olympic Park has been created on an area of derelict and contaminated land in east London.  When they visit, people are genuinely amazed by the sight and experience of millions of wildflowers all around them, covering such large areas, and surrounding the main Olympic Stadium and the other venues.

We hope this is a turning point in the way that we view urban landscapes in the UK: no stronger evidence is needed that people love flower-rich, natural surroundings than the response there has been to the park.

Dr. Nigel Dunnett
Professor of Planting Design and Vegetation Technology
Director, The Green Roof Centre
Department of Landscape
University of Sheffield
Weston Bank,  Sheffield  S10 2TN
Tel: 0114 2220611
n.dunnett@sheffield.ac.uk