Our clients, for whom Charlotte Rowe had already created two roof terraces previously, were fortunate enough to buy an enormously interesting property which had been converted from a former Victorian school on the Regent’s Canal in Islington. Extensive improvements were to be undertaken to the double width property including creating a wonderful new sub-basement with an open-plan kitchen with polished floors under the ground floor of the house, giving access to a 110 sq m South East-facing garden on two levels to the rear.
The new basement level was to be dug out by over one metre so the rear garden also had to be re-levelled, still on two levels, in order that the new garden did not ‘fall into’ the house visually. Georgian underground drains and sewers made this a further challenge, together with the 10 metre high brick wall at end of garden which dominated the garden and house.
The garden design brief was to make really elegant contemporary-style external space visible from all floors of property through the double height Crittall windows being fitted to the rear façade of the house. Charlotte Rowe also needed to design two sitting areas, one at the lower level for the morning sun and a second one at the upper level as well as a dining area.
Charlotte Rowe Garden Design decided to include a fireplace at the upper level to provide a focus from the house and break up the brutalism of the brick wall facing the house. Climbers and hedging was planted on either side of the fireplace to further soften the façade and sofas and easy chairs were placed in front. The dining area was also designed to be on the upper level, protected by a multi-stem Carpinus betulus tree.
At the lower area the stairs up to the upper level were designed asymmetrically to one side, to allow ample space for a U-shaped built-in seating area which is easily accessible from the kitchen and which gets the morning sun. As our clients were keen for maximum privacy, dark grey trellis was designed to enclose the courtyard garden against which a number of evergreen climbers have been planted and a mature Holm Oak was craned in over the property to screen off the neighbour’s property on one side.
The interior grey polished poured concrete floors have been continued to the exterior, with a darker grey gravel area, gently complementary grey render walls which and the dark grey trellis, created a palette of materials and colours against which to set the rich planting.
The structural planting includes three trees – the Holm Oak, the multi-stem Carpinus betulus in gravel and an existing but re-positioned Olive tree as well as two layers of hedging cutting laterally across space to provide interest and depth – Buxus sempervirens and dwarf Japanese bamboo, Pleioblastus pygmaeus ‘Distichus’. Other planting is mix of shrubs, grasses and perennials with signature summer colour provided by Agapanthus ‘Black Pantha’.
A range of garden lighting for a year-round view at night from three floors of the house including vintage festoon lamps in trees and lanterns.