Studio RHE redesigns Blackfriars court building with urban forest


The Roots in the Sky project will redevelop the 1960s former Blackfriars Crown Court into just under 36,000m2 of office, commercial and community space.

A 0.4ha (1.1-acre) rooftop forest will feature more than 100 trees and 10,000 plants.

The eight-storey building will retain the footings and two floors of the existing block but will add a lightweight hybrid steel and cross-laminated timber frame to support the forest’s 1,300 tonnes of soil and 1.5m-deep tree pits. Studio RHE has designed a new six-storey upper volume. 

The scheme, for investment manager and developer Fabrix, will include a public rooftop restaurant and bar, and a glass-floor infinity pool, warmed by the building’s waste heat, with views down to the workspaces below. 

The wider roof space, by landscape designer Harris Bugg Studio, also includes a meeting ‘barn’, gardens, potting shed and seed bank. It will use a passive water capture and irrigation system.

Street-level amenities include a green atrium, a 50-seat auditorium and community space, retail kiosks and a café. 

Fabrix chief executive Clive Nichol said: ‘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.

‘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.’


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