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A one-acre rooftop forest is coming to London

With over 100 trees, 10,000 plants and an infinity swimming pool heated by the building’s waste

Written by
Alexandra Sims

Did you know London is a forest? Yep, our capital is packed with so many trees, it’s technically an urban forest, and now things are looking even greener for the city. Plans are afoot to turn a rooftop in Southwark into one of the largest urban roof gardens in Europe, which will also be filled with enough trees to be classed as an urban forest. An urban forest within an urban forest: it’s all very meta. 

According to the United Nations, a forest is anywhere that’s at least 20 percent trees – and developers say the building will have at least 25 percent canopy cover, putting it well within urban forest territory (London is 21 percent trees, fyi).

The 1.1 acre garden will be created on the rooftop of the former Blackfriars Crown Court and will pack in over 100 trees, 10,000 plants, 1,300 tonnes of soil, and an infinity swimming pool heated by the building’s waste.  

Fabrix Roots
Photograph: Fabrix/Roots

There was plenty of uproar when the court was sold off by the government last year. Now, it's new owner, property investor Fabrix , has revealed plans to transform the six-storey building into ‘a genuine place for community uses’. As well as the garden rooftop, the ‘Roots in the Sky’ development will also have a restaurant and bar on its top floor, office space below, and a green atrium, auditorium, café and shops on the ground floor. 

The developers have also promised to provide space and facilities for locals with community gardens, allotments, a potting shed and a seed bank featuring up on that roof. 

Construction on the site is due to begin in January 2021. However, it’s not expected to be completed until 2024 – so for now, we’ll have to be content with the 8.4 million trees that already stand tall within our city limits. 

More green news: The Natural History Museum’s five-acre gardens will become a national centre for urban nature.

Camille Walala has drawn up plans for a pedestrianised Oxford Street.

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