Spectacular rooftop forest planned for old court house in Southwark

A former crown court is set to transformed into an office block with a rooftop forest – and home for more than 100 trees, 10,000 plants and a colony of stag beetles. 

The Roots in the Sky project at what was Blackfriars Crown Court – until December 2019 – will cost an estimated £180 million and will also include 385,000 square feet of office space as well as a rooftop bar, restaurant and swimming pool. 

The plan is to have separate entrances for members of the public, who will have access to the rooftop woodland covering 1.4 acres, as well as spectacular views of The Shard and the City of London.

The aim is to get green-fingered members of the community involved in planting, and to grant access to potting sheds and seedbanks and even a community barn. 

Some 1,300 tonnes of soil will need to be brought up to the roof of a building which first saw life as a printworks in the 1960s. 

Property developers Fabrix, who have been given the go-ahead for the scheme by Southwark council, believe the new project will help contribute to London’s goal of reaching net zero by 2030, and attract various forms of wildlife to make the rooftop forest their home. 

Clive Nichol, chief executive of Fabrix, said: “Roots in the Sky represents a step-change for the future of the office market – an office building that works not just for a progressive occupier but also for the local community and wider London. “ 

The seven-storey building stands in Pocock Street near the Southwark London Underground station.

Blackfriars Crown Court was part of a swathe of court buildings sold by the UK government, and has not been without controversy.  Some within the legal profession have said the government’s sales of such buildings had contributed to a backlog of court cases. 

The Roof in the Sky building will include its own water capture and irrigation system to meet all the plant’s needs on its roof. 

Work is due to begin in January, with the companies Mace and Erith involved in construction.

Pictured top: A building set to be transformed by ‘Roots in the Sky’ (All images: Sheppard Robson Architects / Fabrix)

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