Londoners are wild for rooftop bars, film screenings, and even curling, but a love for the top floor is a global phenomenon. From calming rooftop gardens and spaces of contemplation to swanky dining with a view, designers around the world are looking upwards for inspiration. ‘Rooftops: Islands in the Sky’ is a beautiful new book from Taschen by architecture writer Philip Jodidio, documenting the trend through illustrations and photography. Here are seven of our favourites from across the planet. [Photo: Timothy Hursley]
1) Das Loft, Vienna
At first sight this flash modern rooftop restaurant in Vienna’s historic centre seems a bit out of place. But take a closer look: Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist’s ceiling artwork playfully nods to the gothic stained glass and colourful roof of the Austrian capital’s iconic landmark, St Stephen’s Cathedral, over which the upmarket Das Loft commands breathtaking views.
The floor-to-ceiling windows allow diners to take in the mighty river Danube, ensuring that architect Jean Nouvel’s rooftop design knits Vienna’s waterways to its skies.
2) SkyPark, Singapore
Is it a boat? Is it a plane? Is it a broken down AT-AT transformed into a pleasure palace in the clouds? SkyPark, in Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands development, looks a bit like all these things at once. Its 190-metre-high rooftop contains some 250 trees and can accommodate 3,900 people at a time.
It also boasts not one but three upscale eateries, as well as a plush bar. The best bit? If you’re staying at the hotel you can take a dip in the 146-metre-long infinity pool which offers dazzling views overlooking the city.
3) Sevva, Hong Kong
Perched on top of a designer shopping centre, this twenty-fifth-floor rooftop restaurant is dwarfed by the skyscrapers of central Hong Kong. But that’s what makes it so special, offering diners thrilling close-ups of some the city’s most striking architecture, including Norman Foster’s (yep, the guy of Gherkin fame) HSBC Building.
The vast cocktail terrace, less a relaxing escape than a humbling confrontation with the beating heart of one of the world’s most densely populated cities, looks out over HK’s Victoria Harbour and Kowloon, offering views so breathtaking, you’ll definitely need that drink.
4) Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris
As far as architects go, you don’t get much bigger than Frank Gehry, the preeminent postmodernist of our times. His creation for the Louis Vuitton Foundation in the French capital resembles a set of billowing sails, a glass cloud and a Transformer.
It threatens to steal the limelight from the £11 million art museum it houses, and the rooftop is the Canadian’s crowning glory, a fractured mass of wood, steel and glass, flooded with light, providing dramatic views over the skyscrapers of Paris’s Défense district.
5) Sirocco Restaurant, Bangkok
How do you make the largest building in Southeast Asia even more impressive? Plonk a glitzy bar and restaurant on top. The Sky Bar terrace, decorated in Thai silk and gold leaf touches, is on the sixty-third floor of the State Tower in the Thai capital.
Sirocco offers the highest alfresco dining experience in the world, with 360-degree views over Bangkok.
6) 1 Angel Lane, London
The manic City of London is the last place you’d expect to find a tranquil rooftop garden complete with a vegetable plot, cascading pools and a honey-producing bee colony. Yet this rooftop oasis, at 2,000 square metres, is the city’s largest, dotted with lush herbaceous perennials and evergreens set in iroko timber planks, a nod to the building’s tenants, the Japanese bank Nomura.
It’s usually open to employees only, but the garden throws open its doors for the annual Open Garden Squares weekend, with this year’s event taking place on June 17 and 18.
7) Hypar Pavilion Lawn, New York
On top of a glass restaurant attached to New York’s Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, the sloping Hypar Pavilion Lawn is angled away from the noise of nearby Broadway, creating what architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro call ‘bucolic urbanism’.
Offering New Yorkers a relaxing island of green space amid a sea of concrete, the Lawn affords striking views of Henry Moore’s famous ‘Reclining Figure’ sculpture, inviting visitors to reflect on their own busy lives.