Walking in the Sky / by Kate Baker

Wilder Associates recently visited the in Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street nicknamed the ‘Walkie Talkie’ due to its distinctive shape.

As the doors of the very fast elevator opened and we were greeted by stunning views over South London and no sign of smoldering cars below. The space is incredibly open, with a high atrium housing a café at the lower level and a restaurant perched precariously above hanging gardens that flow down over a series of terraces. The space is ambient, so the plants here are protected from frost, but not tropical. This is what separates it from many other internal spaces in London that are like greenhouses within the corporate atmosphere. Here the plants are lush, almost primeval, with cycads and tree ferns dominating the upper canopy and a range of colourful groundcovers beneath. This is what we had come here to see as a precursor to the primordial forest that we are creating at the Natural History Museum in London. Amongst the gardens, a number of small terraces nestle amongst the vegetation and one can imagine this as a welcome retreat in the summer. The only thing lacking in the space was some animation, either through water or wildlife amongst the planting.

The café terrace does, however, offer the sport of people watching set against the backdrop of London’s South Bank. The building, like many of London’s recent additions, competes for the most ostentatious form. So it seems that we now have a series of platonic solids scattered about like a still life painting in the City.

So one can now relax feeling bird like amongst the leviathans of London’s ever changing skyline, sipping our small skinny latte amongst the City elite and pretending that there never was a recession. The Sky Bar lives up to its name and is set to be a popular eating and entertainment venue, if only for the tourists.

By Valya Kerisheva