Bird’s-Eye View

The industrial wasteland surrounding London’s Kings Cross has recently been transformed by an exciting redevelopment scheme, replacing derelict factories with schools, restaurants, galleries, shops, offices and homes.

This project has seen three interlocking gasholders painstakingly restored and moved to a new site on the Regent’s Canal. Originally built in the mid-nineteenth century, these iconic structures now frame circular apartment blocks created by architects Wilkinson Eyre and interior designer Jonathan Tuckey.

We were thrilled to be invited to design two spaces in this new setting. The first was a small internal courtyard immediately outside our client’s apartment. We transformed it by helping our client to source an elegant sculpture, and creating a sheet of water crossed by stepping stones that lead to a spiral staircase and the roof garden.

This sun-baked terrace is encircled by a low boundary fence. The view in every direction is of London, always framed by the columns and ornate structure of the gasholder. We arranged comfortable seating and gatherings of elegant pots on the terrace, alongside one of British sculptor Paul Vanstone’s magnificent marble torsos.

By planting on either side of the boundary fence, we were able to create a sense of almost limitless space. We chose resilient plants for every season, plants that could cope with cold winds and hot sun on this exposed site. In spring, the furry, fern-like leaves of the pasque flower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, are soon followed by its beautiful downy flowers. The arching blades of pheasant’s tail grass – Anemanthele lessoniana – combine with the dusky flowers of bearded iris ‘Kent Pride’ and the delicate fronds of bronze fennel to bring movement and colour to the site throughout the summer. Aster ‘Little Carlow’ heralds autumn, when it sits alongside the desiccated seed heads of alliums, bleached grasses, and the last starry flowers of the gaura.

Landscape contractor: Shoots and Leaves

Photography: Alister Thorpe