Tuesday, 18 August 2015

New gardens in London

I must confess I have a weakness for London.
Maybe it is for its atmosphere, or for its cultural opportunities. Each time I go there I find new places
to see, new amazing discoveries to head for.
Two awesome pieces of news caught my attention during the last months:

1. London Docklands: this summer a roof garden filled with plants from all over the world opened, as a link with the past, when ships arrived here from exotic countries bringing plants never seen before.
The selection of plants has been made to remember the past but also for the future role of the new crossrail that will connect east and west.

Crossrail roof garden, London

The roof structure was designed by Foster + Partners, while the roof garden has been landscaped by London-based studio Gillespies, located  beneath a 310-metre-long transparent hood.
The ceiling is made of triangular air-filled ETFE cushions (a type of plastic used for its resistance to corrosion) set in the timber-latticed awning.

Crossrail roof garden, London

2. Talking about another part of the city, there is a project to build a garden bridge over the River Thames.
The new footbridge will connect the top of Temple underground station on the Northbank with the South Bank.
Planned by the designer  Thomas Heatherwick, the bridge has its own web page for fundraising, and this is what you can read there to understand the project:
The garden will be an enchanted space in the middle of the busy city. It will feature an abundance of plants, trees and shrubs indigenous to the UK, Northern Europe and other parts of the world. These have all been chosen for their biodiversity, bringing wildlife and horticulture to the heart of London. The planting has been carefully designed to ensure that it will frame and enhance views of the iconic landmarks of London.
The arden consists of several sequential spaces, designed to reflect a number of different characteristics of the rich cultural heritage of the capital’s river and both river banks, so that a pedestrian crossing the bridge will walk through an ever-changing seasonal landscape.
The south end will have a more relaxed aesthetic, featuring plants reflecting South Bank’s marshland history such as willow, birch, alder, geranium, violet and primrose.
At the north end, planting will be inspired by Temple Gardens’ history of ornamental gardening, featuring wisteria, magnolia, roses, alliums, irises and summer snowflakes.
Holding the garden will be a beautifully engineered copper-nickel structure. Its warm colour will provide a contrasting finish to the stone and steel structures that characterise the architecture on both sides of the river.
London garden bridge

London garden bridge

The project has been criticized because it would block the view and, most of all, because it would be very expensive.

Apart from their architectural quality, these are two important signals that the ancient commitment to nature, and gardens in particular, is still alive and vibrant today in Great Britain.
I hope this attitude will become contagious and reach other parts of Europe, sooner or later.

Resources on Crossrail Station roof garden:


Resources on the garden bridge over the Thames: