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Roots in The Sky, London

Michael Grubb Studio have been appointed by Fabrix to provide lighting design services for Project ‘Roots in The Sky – a radical reimagining of the former Blackfriars Crown Court as a next-gen workspace’. With just under 385,000 sqft the building will be converted to contemporary and sustainable offices, commercial and community spaces.

The project will have a 1.1 acre rooftop forest including over 100 established trees and 10,000 plants, making it London’s first office building to deliver an urban forest rooftop. This space will have extensive access for the local community and the general public, with community gardens and collaborative neighbourhood uses, a rooftop restaurant, bar and swimming pool, and private terraces for the office space below. Set to be one of the largest urban roof gardens in Europe, the building will make a significant contribution to London’s ambitious targets for greening, biodiversity and sustainability. 

Clive Nichol, CEO of Fabrix said of the scheme: “Our vision for ‘Roots In The Sky’ is a modern workplace that actively engages with its local surroundings, and helps shape a neighbourhood that is enjoyable, liveable and economically productive. It’s a commercial building that aims to be a ‘good citizen’, offering a genuine place for community uses, contributing to the ongoing regeneration of Bankside and to London’s wider greening targets.” 

‘Roots in The Sky’ sets out to demonstrate the value of placemaking in a commercial office building, and that bringing inspiring new community spaces alongside commercial development is of benefit to the neighbourhood and tenants alike. Recognising that office space is in demand in the borough but that space and services for community use are lacking, Fabrix took a decision to dedicate many of the prime areas of the new building for local use, also setting up a not-for-profit management structure to run the spaces. 

At street level, amenities include an accessible green atrium, auditorium and community space, a café and retail kiosks. A new thoroughfare between adjoining streets will run through the heart of the building, creating further links to the neighbourhood. Placing the services and cooling in the basement liberates the roofspace to re-introduce trees and create space for a new ‘barn’ meeting space, roof gardens, potting shed and seed bank in the wider roofscape, which has been designed by landscape design practice Harris Bugg. The rooftop, which exceeds the urban forest criteria set out by the United Nations, providing canopy cover of 23%, uses a passive water capture and irrigation system and reintroduces wildlife to the city. It brings together the community, public and private areas with spectacular views across London. 

A publicly accessible restaurant and bar sits between the community and private spaces, next to the glass floored infinity edge swimming pool – heated by the building’s waste heat and provides glimpses to the workspaces below. 

Clive Nichol, CEO of Fabrix said: “This building anticipates the shift in the way people are thinking about their working life post-COVID. It’s designed with generous spaces and natural ventilation, access to nature and a mix of uses that reflects new ways of working and living. For us community use goes further than a coffee roastery – it’s about creating daily connections between the neighbourhood and those using the building for work and leisure. We hope that Roots in the Sky serves as a statement on the value of sustainable, community-led development.” 

The development is set to begin on site in 2021, and complete in 2024. 

Project Team